Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Big Picture

Little by little I am ticking away at all the responsibilities I have. If I try to do a million things (or even ten things) at once, I feel like I am drowning, so I just take it slowly and get it done slowly, but I eventually get most of it done. Something about my psyche doesn't want me to take on and achieve huge things. I can succeed at small things or big things stretched out over time, but I would usually rather quit than dive into a huge challenge wondering if I will make it out with my ego in tact.

Maybe that is why I am a big picture girl. I remember one time when I was a teen ager. I was telling my younger sister about all the plans I had for my future. They were very grand and she said I would never do all those things because I was not ambitious and didn't follow through. Part of me thought she was right. But, years later after ups and downs and round and rounds in my life path, I realized that amid all the days and years, I had actually accomplished everything that I had said I would.

Why do I take indirect, less splashy routes? I don't know. Is it less efficient? I don't know. But, I have come to accept and live by a couple of cliches: slow and steady wins the race, and I yam what I yam. It is good to live in the present but I have to be careful not to be impatient or narrow focused. Hope, faith, big picture - whatever I call it, I have to keep believing that my life is an amazing story with a solid plot line, amazing details and a good moral.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Well, I am sorry that I have not been making entries! It seems the more I have going on and the more I could be filled with writing inspiration, the less time I have to write. Today is Thanksgiving. We had a lovely day and I have a lot to be thankful for. We had dinner at our house with my sister and her husband, and my Japanese exchange student friend. There was a ton of food, drink, lively conversation, and just plain relaxation. We watched a little of the Macy's parade and went for a walk. I think our foreign friend enjoyed the traditional foods and our zany family.

I wore my brown skirt with a cream silk top. The day went by fast but we will have a clean house and leftovers for a while.

Peace on Earth and welcome winter!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday With My Cat

I did not want to get out of bed this morning. I had to fight against all those ideas of just quitting. The best one is where I tell myself that quitting is actually an act of rebellion, that no one can force me to do anything and I can make my own choices and I choose to stay in bed - ha! Yeah, that's a good one. It is, of course, born of sleepy, laziness and is just a clever ploy erupting from some deep-seated fear of completion that needs to be psychoanalyzed.

Anyway, the grown-up in me is winning out. I am writing in my blog. I am going to study for my Japanese quiz tomorrow. I am going to go grocery shopping for the food I need to make Thanksgiving dinner. I am going to wear one of my 4 skirts.

I look at my cat lying next to me, curled up in a tight knot. She only needs the comfort of knowing I am there to rest peacefully. She is like a dog in the way she follows me around. She caught and ate a small bird last week and then threw it up in our hallway! It was worse than most horror movies. I made my husband clean it up. It is not the grossness of the barf, but the sadness of that poor dead bird that really bothers me. What can I do though? It is natural for animals to hunt.

Speaking of animals, I waited in line for an hour with my daughter on Friday so we could get good seats at New Moon. I did not think the movie was as good as the first one but I must say that we are both on Team Jacob. I wish they would have focused on and developed the wolf story more. I will never wait in line like that again but actually the time goes by fast when you accept that that amount of time is going to be spent there and you are just in the moment.

After Thanksgiving, I plan to get motivated in my Shecological business. It has been hard lately with everything else I have to take care of with school and family. But, hopefully the holidays will be a good time for sales and I will need to keep refilling my store. I am excited to do some of the new styles I have been dreaming up.

Bye for now kitty. I'm off to class.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Skirts on Friday con't.

I really do think that my skirts project is helping me be less consumeristic. I think it is also helping me be more focused. I feel my inner vision being directed more narrowly, clearly, deeply and less frenetically. I think it is helping me with the stress and volume of things in my life right now. It is also having a positive effect on the way I am viewing my creativity and my business.

With my bags, I want to do more with less. It sounds a little cliche but that is my feeling in a nutshell. I have great hopes for the results when they finally materialize.

With my personal fashion, it doesn't even seem strange to me anymore to be wearing the same skirts every day. I make sure that my outfits are comfortable, warm (or cool if I am going down to the desert), coordinated and interesting. I pay more attention to my accessories and have fun with those sometimes. I am wearing tall knee socks or leggings every day so I don't have to shave my legs or polish my toes.

I have stopped wearing my Michelle skirt because it doesn't keep me warm enough and it is basically white. So now I have 3 skirts and I am afraid they are getting worn out. The brown hemp Mary Jane skirt and the flowered Zara are definitely the two favorites.

I don't know if I will be able to stick to these 4 for the whole year. I may have to switch in a new one for the white one. I hope the other one's don't get thread bare because I am not sure I can be dedicated enough to patch or wear holes!

In the picture at the top, I am wearing my Mary Jane skirt, a sweater that I got last year on clearance at Banana Republic, and a necklace from Polarity on etsy. She has great things and is a super nice person with a very entertaining blog.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Textile Tuesdays : #8 Wednesday Rock and Roll

Textiles can show up all over the place, in unexpected moments - even on a wednesday, in any place from ancient artifacts to modern technology and music.

Last week I went with my Japanese friend to the Museum of Northern Arizona. I wanted to show her a little bit of the art and culture we have here. I think she liked it. It is hard to know if she was just being polite. Anyway, I showed her my favorite sections - the textiles. There are ancient baskets, sandals woven from yucca, bags knitted from human hair, made with bone needles. There are also more modern works such as Navajo blankets and articles of traditional clothing.

Back at home, I was on ETSY with my daughters and we went to the Virtual Lab to see a live chat with the Australian singer - Lenka. She is one of my new favorites. her lyrics are very poetic and clever. The music is fun with a slightly dark edge. Her videos are very creative with an artsy, handmade quality, and she is cute and stylish. It got me thinking of all sorts of fun, wild art projects like decorating the house in January to look like a giant garden with vines hanging from the lamps and ceilings. It made me want to be more daring in my own work and my own style. I love that kind of thing. I love courage in personal expression. It makes me think that the human race is vibrant and moving forward into exciting futures.

Isn't that after all what rock and roll is about - at least partly? It got me thinking of the influence that R&R has had on social change and cultural trends. Think of Elvis, the Beatles, The Supremes, The Sex Pistols, Madonna, Nirvana, on and on and on. I'm not saying that any one of these people or groups is responsible for a fashion and cultural wave, but they helped bring it to the youth and the masses. One of my favorite designers is Vivienne Westwood. I saw a fabulous, exciting exhibit of her works in San Francisco a few years ago. She was the punk rock designer (sounds like a contradiction but it's not).

Part of being a rock star is having a look. Usually, that look means some identifiable fashion. A lot of stars have designers that they work with and some even develop their own lines - like Gwen Stefani and her Harajuku Lovers. Sometimes, the fashion is anti-fashion like the Grunge movement, made famous by Nirvana and other Northwest Bands.

Nowadays, there seem to be many trends that anyone can follow (or not). But rather than mimicking one person or exact look, it would be nice if everyone got the subtler message of making a statement by being oneself; having the courage to look within and express ones creativity and personality. Maybe it is impossible to be truly original, but it is fun to try. Having access to alternative clothing and accessories, being able to make your own, to play around with fabrics and other materials, is certainly a start.

The photos are from Malam and I Heart Fink on ETSY.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Life in a Southwestern Mountain Town #5

Somehow, with all the small town nothing going on, we still manage to fill our days. Some of it is tedious, and some is sweet and wonderful. This weekend, I really felt like a mother/artist/housewife in a small southwestern mountain town. Maybe I am just being "meta" as my friend Lisa would say, but I felt a little like I was watching my life, like a movie, and it was kind of entertaining.
I have connected with a Japanese exchange student at the university. We are supposed to help each other with language and cultural understanding. Mostly, so far, I have been speaking English with her and trying to get to know her. I took her to the local museum on Tuesday. I think she liked it. Saturday, my younger daughter and I took her to our little historic downtown to go shopping. It snowed a little bit and was quite cold, but we stayed inside mostly. There were a lot of people out shopping and we ran into a few different friends. We even got free cobbler from the mayor who was trying to get people to sign a petition! I tried to point out different historic buildings and tell her about how this town operates. I think she had a good time. I hope so.
I spent a good deal of my week-end cleaning a house that has been neglected or barely cleaned by me for a while. The girls helped some and it felt good to get everything organized and presentable again. I even took another trip to the goodwill.

Today a friend came over and looked through my bags. She bought a bag for herself and one for a friend for her birthday. I was flattered and grateful for her vote of confidence.

I didn't get to do any sewing and no Japanese homework. Instead, I helped my older daughter do a photo shoot for her jewelry that she sells on ETSY. She wants to give her shop a makeover so we got her glammed up and did some dramatic photos. I think she got some good ones. Unfortunately it got dark and cold before we could get the full use of the hair and make-up.

My husband is on his way home from Edinburgh and should be here within the hour. I missed him and will be glad when he is home. Sometimes I worry and just feel better when everyone is together safe and sound.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Review

Another week has drifted by like an exhale. I don't seem to be able to get done everything that I want to but I feel a strange sense of calm and optimism.
(no, I'm not on mood stablizing drugs, unless you count fish oil).

I have actually ended a fairly crappy week feeling inspired and with a plan. I haven't decided anything definitely, but I think I am going to not sign up for Japanese 102 next semester. I was really stressed about my inability to perform in that class. I didn't like that some of the students were nasty to me (bitchy girl, you know who you are). But, mostly, I just want to be able to digest the material so I can actually use it. I don't care about meeting some curriculum goal or getting a good grade. I feel that if I keep covering new material, I will loose what I have already tackled. So, my plan is to do self-study for the rest of the year, go over 101 and venture into 102 on my own or maybe with a tutor. Then, next Spring, if I still want to, I can take 102 with a good solid foundation.
On the Shecological front, I have decided to focus back onto my original designs and my original plan to make natural more chic. I have been feeling really creative and want to get to the sewing and listing. The past year, I have made some fun and cool bags and I have played with lots of ideas, but I have gone off track from my true fashion aesthetic. I am proud of the work I have done and am excited to see the result of my self-redirect.

I love being able to sell my work on ETSY and I think it is a fabulous venue. But sometimes I get overwhelmed and frustrated trying to figure it out, trying to keep up with the ins and outs. Thankfully, one of the main reasons I love it is the people I have come to know through convos, treasuries, teams, etc. I really mean it. Last week, there were a few (or more than a few) days when I was about to cry, when I didn't want to get out of bed, and I got a convo from someone or a comment on my blog or treasury telling me something that was encouraging, supportive or just kind. I got notes saying that they could relate to my feelings, ideas or situation. Sometimes it was just a mutual interest or mutual appreciation for something. All these little things make me happy. They make me realize that people are what it is all about. They make me remember that I want to do what I can to make other people smile.
There are many, many wonderful people that I have crossed "virtual" paths with but this week I want to just say a special thanks to 4 people:

Rikkianne from Chakrapennywhistle
Cricket from Cricketapollo and Just 3 Things

You all reached through the blogosphere and gave me the pat on the back that I needed. So here is a big virtual hug and smile back at you.

I also wanted to talk about my skirts, about the birds in our yard, about the Japanese exchange student that I am befriending, about Lenka!, and about party planning. For now, I am done and want to go watch a DVD of Foyle's War. I will write more tomorrow.

The photo is one of my first bags from a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Maybe I Should Call It: What The @*#% Wednesday

I wanted to have Wednesdays be about my Japanese class and various details about this wonderful language. However, today I am feeling so discouraged, frustrated, and insecure that I am not going to try to say too much. It would just come off as pitiful. So I will think about it and try to have some intelligent reflection at a later date. For now I will just say that I am having to work harder than I normally would and the results are much less positive than they normally would be! Is it aging? Is Japanese just amazingly difficult? Am I trying to do too many things? Or maybe, this class is just unrealistically fast paced?

Today was a holiday - no class. I did have a nice time hanging out with my girls but we were all doing homework for a good part of it! At dinner, Valerie suggested we make a list of 100 things that make us happy. It was fun and I think we all did feel happier by the end of it.

I am really looking forward to Christmas! I made this nice little treasury on etsy to express the way I am feeling. I think it turned out pretty well.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Textile Tuesdays : #7 Plaid

Today I feel like writing about plaid. It is autumn and, because plaid is originally made of wool, it is a good fabric for the cooler weather. Also, my husband is off to Edinburgh for 5 days so my mind is wandering to Scotland.

Plaid is about textile history but it is also about style. I usually think that a person who wears plaid has got style, a sense of history, and the courage to be bold. One of my 4 skirts is a Pendelton wool plaid. I have been getting some good wear out of her lately. It does take some confidence and a sense of adventure to put it on but I get tons of compliments on it.

Tartan plaids have been a symbol of Scottish heritage for hundreds of years. Different patterns and colors signify clans, activities, or rank. The name of the plaid often comes from the family name such as Stuart or Macintosh. In any case, the pattern is woven into the fabric in a crisscross pattern of thick or thin lines. There are hundreds of different patterns. My favorites are the ones that have light green and aqua like the Davidson, Campbell or Blair. You can still find companies in Great Britain that make and sell traditional woolen yardage, kilts, shawls, etc. in a huge variety of colors and patterns. They are quite expensive and, I think you have to be committed to the cause to go this route. One store, Donaldson's, sells yardage at about $65/meter. Kilts cost about $500.

The plaid does not stop at kilts and wool though. It has infiltrated high and low fashion all over the world. Just think of a lumberjack, a Catholic school uniform or a pair of golfing trousers. From Vivienne Westwood, to Lulu Guiness, to Burberry to Dolce and Gabana, the runway models were wearing it last year which means it is a big trend this year. You can find it at Anthropologie, J Crew, Gap, or Target or Barneys. I have to say, I wish I could have had this Maclaren Stroller when my girls were small. I did have a Maclaren. It was a work horse, but it was plain blue with green trim. I would have loved the plaid.

Let's not forget that vintage is big and vintage is probably one of the best, most cost effective, most earth-friendly ways to get plaid. Those old wools, if they haven't been eaten by moths, last forever. I love my vintage plaid skirts, scarves and jackets. You can find great vintage plaids on Look at this lovely plaid suit from Sally Jane Vintage. How about this scarf from The Vintage Closet? Let's not forget the dogs!!

The photo at the top is from Isn't it fabulous!?

I hope you explore more about plaid and try it out if you are not already a fan.
I will let you know if I get a plaid shawl or blanket from the land of Loch Ness. I am crossing my fingers.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dreaming in Metaphors

I have been drinking coffee lately to try to get myself more reved up. It is working a little but I feel yucky and I can't get to sleep at night. So, I guess I will call that a failed experiment.

Last night I was lying in bed with my mental sound track going on and on, droning towards sleep but not quite getting there. I had lots of ideas but didn't want to turn on the light to right them down. I remember one idea for a bag that I will try to do today. It seemed like a good idea in my sleepy mind but we will see if it can translate to the light of day.

Anyway, I don't know if it is the coffee or just my life right now, but I have been having dreams that are like little messages to myself and I am really not quite sure what they mean.

"Calling Dr. Freud or Dr. Jung"...

First I had a dream that I was visiting with an old childhood friend of mine in her house in Michigan. It was completely empty and the walls were covered with plexiglass. We were sitting on the floor and she was being nice to me but then I noticed that she had 2 heads. I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want to be mean, and I was a little scared.

Next, I had a dream that I was teaching a textile arts class and a friend asked me to watch her pet monkey. So, while I was trying to do all this messy stuff I, literally, had a monkey on my back! When I tried to put it in its box, it bit my finger.

Last night, I dreamed that I was an exchange student in Japan but I was living in the house of a Chinese woman. I had to sleep in the living room and share with another student. I was trying to make a phone call on an old push button phone but I couldn't figure out how to do it. I was trying to figure out if I should go home.

I know that the symbolism is obvious but my friend Patty was never really two faced. She was always thoughtful and honest. But maybe she was hiding something.

I do feel like I have a lot of responsibilities, but I can't say any particular thing that feels like a monkey on my back. Maybe it is something in me that I have to work out.

I am obviously stressed about my Japanese class and my daughter is going to China for one week at spring break. Maybe I am worried about that.

I think all these things together make my life seem like some kind of surreal movie script. Well, I'm off to shower and go out into the real action.

The picture at the top is of (part of) my family at a summer picnic. I am in the red sweater. Everyone looks happy except my dad who is probably chewing on something and my little sister Peggy who looks a little pissed off about something. I look very concerned. I would have been about 6 there.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


If anyone out there has been reading this blog since the beginning, you will know that I was doing a deep cleaning of my house back in July. Well, I am still trying to deal with the dregs of that. I have several issues that cause my surroundings to be overly cluttered.

One is that I love little, cute things. I collect them even though they are pretty much useless. They are fun to look at but not when they are piled in a heap. They don't get used so they never get used up so it is hard to throw them away.

Two is that I don't like to "waste" things. This translates to never throw anything away. I have boxes of clothes, books, toys, art supplies, etc. that I don't want to even give to the goodwill because I am sure that one of my friends or family members could use. Or maybe we will need it then have to go buy more. Isn't it Murphy's Law that if you get rid of something you will need it the next day?

The other reason is that I am sentimental and I want to keep souvenirs and mementos. I have boxes of baby clothes, art projects, toys, photos, scraps of fabric, postcards, that have some historic significance to me.

At what point do I say, I can't house these things anymore! I have a life in the present that is getting bogged down by the stuff of the past! What is the limit on amount of things that can be stored and saved? I am sure I have exceeded it.

I am trying to go through it all reasonably. It is taking a long time because it is the last thing I ever want to do. I am making progress and the best thing is that I have really really cut back on intake. I only buy what we absolutely need and whenever something comes into the house, something has to go out.

Maybe when I have truly completed the purge, I will look forward and realize we have all moved into a new phase of our lives. I think that is kind of happening anyway.

Speaking of cleaning, look at this great thing that I found on etsy (the photo at the top). It is so much better than using those stinky paper ones and throwing them away. It is from a company in Tucson called Ollies Boutique.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Skirts on Friday

Well, I am still having to fight myself everyday to not give up on this skirts project. I realized something about myself that probably has a lot to do with my lack of glorious fame and success. I don't like routine. I strive for it, but when I get it I almost immediately feel like I am trapped. I am like a caged animal who wants to assert my freedom and when I get it I stand there wondering what to do next. I want to learn Japanese. I want to make and sell eco-conscious bags. I want to work out and be fit and healthy. I enjoy cooking. I want to write in my blog. I want to continue with my skirt experiment. Buuuuutttt..... when I feel that I have to, a little voice in my head says NO, let me do something else, let me do nothing. I have to go on arguing with myself or I just make my brain shut up and I get down to doing whatever it is I need to do.

Good thing I have 4 skirts and not just one! Once I am dressed, I am fine. Less thinking, more doing is actually a good thing in my case.

I was listening to Ekhart Tolle in my car on the way down to visit my sister in Sedona yesterday. It was a good reminder to focus on the present, to not be worrying about the past, to plan for the future but not get stuck in worrying about it. Change things that need changing (if you want them changed), try to realize how you can change your own perspective or attitude towards things that you can't change. It sounds like the 12 step program and my paraphrasing is pitiful but I know what I am trying to say and I recommend that anyone who is curious go here and read or listen to the actual text.

Anyway, I realize the above hang up of mine, but I am not going to worry about it.

In the present moment, it is Friday, tonight is first Friday art walk in downtown Flagstaff, the weather is still pretty mild, and I am in a pretty good mood. David and I are going out to dinner and the girls are busy with their friends. Dare I say, "Life is Good!"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Behind My Self-imposed Schedule

Japanese Wednesday on a Thursday morning, at least I got poetic words on wednesday. Anyway, I have a quiz today (pronounced ku-ee-zoo). I have been studying a fair amount and really trying to bend my mind to it. I even drank a big cup of coffee to rev myself up. I made flash cards and studied them. I made up little stories for some of the things that I couldn't remember, and I wrote pages of practice. On Tuesday, I went to the teacher's office and whined to her about how I am struggling. She was very nice but basically told me that hard work is the only way to learn this and that I should be able to manage it.
here are my two favorite words this week:

The verb WAKARU, congugated into wakari, or more importantly, wakarimasen. Translation: to understand, I understand, I don't understand. Wakarimasen, somehow is easy for me to remember.

This simple word stands alone or with other words: DOE SHE TAY (spelled doushite) it means WHY? as in why am I trying to live up all these self-imposed structures and standards? or, why did I let myself fall in love with you? Watch this video and sing along:

The picture at the top is from an etsy seller called Dazey Chic. She has fantastic artwork and wise words for all of us! Check her out at this link.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


The other night, my younger daughter, who is 12, asked if we would read her a poem just before sleep. At first, my husband said it was too late. Then he let go of rigidity and thought about it with an open mind. Really, how can you say "no poetry for you young lady!" So he grabbed a collection that we have by Billy Collins and opened it randomly to a poem. It was a wonderful, sweet poem about taking notice of each day. I thought it was so appropriate to what we have been thinking about lately. I hope it is o.k. to copy it here for all of you to read. It is from a book called Sailing Alone Around the Room.


Each one is a gift, no doubt,
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.

Today begins cold and bright,
the ground heavy with snow
and the thick masonry of ice,
the sun glinting off the turrets of clouds.

Through the calm eye of the window
everything is in its place
but so precariously
this day might be resting somehow

on the one before it,
all the days of the past stacked high
like the impossible tower of dishes
entertainers used to build on stage.

No wonder you find yourself
perched on the top of a ladder
hoping to add one more.
Just another Wednesday,

you whisper,
then holding your breath,
place this cup on yesterday's saucer
without the slightest clink.

I think it is somewhat sad and tense, but also so hopeful and confident. I imagine a Wednesday morning, like today, where I open my eyes and it is like Christmas. There is a little box at the foot of my bed and I open it and say "Oh my god! I can't believe it! I got another day! It's a Wednesday! I am going to take care of it and try not to break it." And I am so happy and excited, like I just won the lottery. Can you imagine if we started each day like this. I am going to try.

years go by - the pictures at the top are 4 years and 2 continents apart. I don't like the expression "it's all good" because some of it is not. But, most of it is.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Textile Tuesdays : #6 Indigo

When I was pregnant the first time, I had terrible "morning" sickness. It lasted all day for about 8 months. I also had a weird attraction to the color blue so I bought most of my maternity clothes in that color. I was a social worker in a hospital at the time and I got pretty good at ducking into the nearest bathroom to puke in between seeing patients or families. Anyway, after my daughter was born, any time I looked at those blue clothes or even thought of the color blue, it would bring back waves of nausea. It took me a long time to warm up to that color again. One of the things that helped me come around was the natural beauty of indigo.

Natural colors are almost always much more beautiful than synthetic ones. There is a whole theory of how natural colors resonate at a different frequency and how chemical colors are numbing our visual sensitivity - like the effect of too much sugar or salt on taste buds - but I don't have time to go into that now. But if you think about it, the yellow of a sunflower could never give you a headache, the blue of the sky could never make you sick!

Indigo is an amazing plant and the dye that comes from it has quite an illustrious history. The plant is called Indigofera tinctoria and it is a member of the pea family. Indigo is fermented (isn't that cool?) and has to be alkaline before it can do its magic. When the fabric comes out of the indigo dye bath it is yellowy green. When it hits the air, it transforms into a beautiful shade of blue from pale turquoise to almost black-blue.
Indigo blue is seen on some of the oldest pieces of fabric, it was in high demand for the production of military uniforms, and even now has worldwide popularity in blue jeans.

I took a workshop on natural dyes up in Portland, Oregon a few years ago. It was wonderful and I am so glad that I got to dye a big piece of muslin in the indigo vat. It was in a dark, cold garage, inside a vintage washing machine with stinky, natural fermentation smells wafting up. I felt a little bit like a witch stirring it with a big wooden stick. The woman was an old, true, hippie and very devoted to the gospel of natural dyes. Check her out at Aurora Silks.

Here are some other cool websites that will give you more information and inspiration.