Monday, April 21, 2014

Living More With Less: Sewing

Remember sewing? If you came up in the seventies and eighties it may have been something they still taught in school.

I learned how to sew from my mother, who learned from her grandmother, who taught her to sew on a peddle powered machine. We always had the sewing machine set up and ready to go. My mother made us costumes and prom dresses, and we would do our own hems and peg leg our jeans before they were called "skinny."

As my mother told the story, Chula, who lived through the Mexican War, said, "you can always have work if you know how to sew." In her opinion, you could always set up a sewing machine under a tree and do some mending. It's not a bad idea. Thus, I grew up with the understanding the sewing is a good skill to have.

In fact, when I was in my early 20's and in the Army, my mother brought me a sewing machine and Chula's words rang true. Before I knew it, I had a line of people outside my barracks room door of fellow soldiers who needed mending done.

I've had a number of machines since then. I've found that the newer ones aren't very sturdy, and jam pretty easily. I was lucky enough to find an old Kenmore machine recently. It weighs almost 20 pounds, but I'm betting it can take four layers of denim no problem.

So now, once again, I sew. I enjoy the act of mending. I fix popped seams, pockets and belt loops all to make what I have last a little longer. Sewing is something that connects me to my past, but is done with the future in mind, and it reminds me that with a little know-how, worth can be restored. I take pride in being able to fix what others might throw away. And if it can't be fixed, then it can be repurposed. More on that later...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Drama and Trauma

I am here to talk about Trauma and Drama

When I was eight years old,
I saw a children's performance
And remember going straight to my mother
To say "I want to do that too."

I was impressed with how everyone
On stage was able to sing and dance
I just wanted to be part of the syncopation. 

And Thus began many years in performing arts
I was in multiple productions,
Took ballet and tap, and even did a little Shakespeare
All before I was 13
Simply because I loved being part of anything
That created movement and sound.

And despite personal traumas
I always had drama to take me away from it all

My performing days ended
In adulthood and thereafter
Very few in my grown life
Knew of these things

But in that world,
I watched of a different kind of drama
Of those who never
Had the same escape

Their trauma was acted out
In daily antics.

You see, it never occurred to me
That being up on a stage taught me to cope

I never realized that sweating through makeup
Under bright lights, would enable me
To to see the daily act so many put on,
Where comedy and tragedy are
wWoven into a daily play called life
I – was just performing

But from those performances
I learned to silo my emotions for
Easier access on stage
Because there I could sing, dance
And even cry on demand

I learned how see what was real
And what was contrived

Trauma, is a very real thing
It takes your soul, steals away pride
And robs you of personhood

It can be a sudden interruption
Of peace and calm,
That rips what you thought
A secure life was,

But it can also be a process
That wears you down, eroding will
With every concession you make
And every heart you break,
Even if it's your own

I feel lucky because
I can see the relationship between the two
From my perspective, trauma is what gives us pain
And drama is how we act it out

And if we have no other place to perform
No place to sing, to dance to
Recite truths in iambic pentameter,
We act it out in our lives
With no no stage no lights, no orchestra

Only makeup and costume changes

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Crisis or Apex?

Conventional wisdom tells us that when we reach our middle years, realizing that we're half way through our life journey, we go into crisis. The stereotype for men is a snazzy car and even snazzier arm candy. For women, I suppose it's plastic surgery. But, I think there's a lot of ways to react to the midlife apex. For me, midlife is less about being older and more about being wiser.

I'm beginning to understand things I've gotten wrong, like looking for happiness in the wrong places. As recently as two years ago in this blog, I wrote of endless ambition, of always wanting to achieve more. It was never for glory that I wanted to achieve things, but for happiness. I thought accomplishments would bring me happiness, and they did, albeit short lived. Every time I achieved something, as soon as the accomplishment was relished, I'd have to look for the next high. In a lot of ways I was an addict.

I don't regret my accomplishments, but maybe some of the time spent in pursuit of them. I'm lucky right now, because I've had a chance to really slow down and appreciate simpler things.

I like to think I'm growing. It's hard to rid myself of the goal orientation, so I'll try these words: my new path is seeking more life with less things; simplicity. By learning to relax some, I've learned it's ok to live a contented life. I still love adventure and doing extraordinary things, but included in that realm of extraordinary are simple pleasures.

So what's the difference between a crisis and an apex? Well if you're in crisis you may see the apex as down hill in all directions. But, from my perspective, the apex is where I get a much better view of everything around me. It's a start.