Making

Making small changes. Although I’ve been as green as I can possibly be for a number of years, I’m not yet zero-waste (like this inspiring woman). This year I’ve been focusing on finding alternatives to some of the remaining personal care products that I haven’t yet completely greened-up.

I’ve used a “natural” brand of deodorant for many years, but the plastic containers—destined for an eternity in a landfill—were really starting to get to me. Some of the DIY deodorant recipes I looked up seemed far too complicated, but this one seemed more my speed. After reading the commentary about sensitive skin, this is the modification of that recipe that I ended up trying:

baking soda (1 part) + arrowroot powder (4 parts) + a few drops of tea tree oil

I mixed it up in a bowl and then cobbled together a non-Pinterest-worthy applicator. (I took a square of scrap fabric, stuffed it with some small bits and pieces of fabric, gathered it up, and tied it with thread.)

Success: Even in this blasted heat, I’m happy to report I’m not smelly at the end of the day.

Making time. I’ve been doing what I did so well when my kiddos were little: capitalizing on small bits of time in order to sew and knit and read. I sewed several tops this summer (two were up-cycled from textiles I already owned: a too-small scarf became the front half of a blouse, and a former skirt yielded just enough fabric to eke out a sleeveless blouse); I knit socks on the beach and between flips of pancakes; I dipped into and out of books, taking breaths of air from other worlds—literary oxygen masks—and found that by the end of the summer I had read an astonishing (well, astonishing for me . . . ) number of books.

Making an exit. This spring, in the midst of the drama with the PTO, I quit volunteering at the school library. I had worked in the library for seven years, and although it had been a love-hate relationship for quite some time, with me being fully aware that I was hanging on long past my Best Before date, the loss of this work still stung. I’m an introverted homebody. There are days when the only adult I speak to is my husband. And most days, I’m quite all right with that. But my library work took me out of my home and out of my shell. At the very least, I had a twice-weekly, one-minute conversation with the school secretary. And now, well . . . ?

Making connections. This summer, I read a book my 19-year-old son recommended: Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, by Charles Montgomery. It’s a fascinating read—illuminating in a sometimes angry-making way—and enormously readable, even if you aren’t totally obsessed with urban design the way my son is. This passage, coming on the heels of my exit from the library, hit me hard:

 . . . the tight web connecting trust and life satisfaction also extends to the misty realm of our sense of belonging . . . and casual encounters are just as important to belonging and trust as contact with family and close friends. —Charles Montgomery

Making banter. Banter . . . what an old-fashioned term. I recently happened across the word in a book on copy editing. It was used in reference to the email and texting exchanges that can sometimes occur between an editor and a writer when they’re on good terms with each other and are allies working together towards a common goal. That passage reminded me of this: Several months ago, I had a short, mostly one-sided, nerdy emailed exchange about apostrophes with an acquaintance. (Sigh. Yes, I am that painfully weird.)

Months on, I can still recollect the feeling that came over me as I was occupied with crafting those words about words. I felt happy. And light. Those weren’t words that were simply going to be filed away, unsaid, piled on top of all my other unsaid words; those were words that I planned to send along to a fellow human being. There was a palpable shifting of weight from my shoulders, a momentary displacement of the anxious thoughts that cycle constantly through my brain. Living in this world at this point in time—when so much of what’s going on feels like is an existentialistic crisis—is really hard, especially for those of us who are sensitive or who struggle with anxiety. Bring back the banter, I say; bring back laughing about inconsequential things; bring back correspondence. (Oh my: listen to this song, which seems to encapsulate all that and more.)

Making a new start. In April, after the email about apostrophes shone a spotlight on the small things that make me happy, I took a leap and signed up for an online course. I’m now on course number five, and I’m hoping this will one day lead to some sort of a career with words. It’s been accompanied by much anxiety, but on the days I can silence my inner critic it feels like I am finally on the right path.

How about you? What are you making these days?

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6 thoughts on “Making

  1. Oh, Marian. I really love the person you are. You are not painfully weird. Or, maybe you are weird (which does, I know, cause you pain), but you are weird in the best of ways. (See definition 1 here: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weird) Banter is one of life’s great joys, I think. And yes, this time of continual existential crisis does seem to have squashed the banter right out of us. I so appreciate the correspondence I have with you. My circle of blog correspondents has grown quite small, but I’d rather have just a few just-right writing friends than many who are only acquaintances.

    I love this post about what you are making. (Might have to steal your topic.) My on-going, continual project is making my home. I am still unpacking! I am definitely a tortoise when it comes to this. But I’m also just fine with that.

    About your library situation…I am wondering if there is a different place that might benefit from the gifts you have to offer?

    Sorry this is sort of a squirrel-brain response today. Just dashing off a quick note while I eat lunch. As always, was tickled to see a post from you. 🙂

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    1. Sending you a hug, Rita. I’m so grateful for your friendship and this lovely correspondence we have through our blogs. It’s the thing that has kept me going with it; in my mind, it’s postcards you and I and Kate (and a tiny handful of others) send back and forth to each other. (When I was a child, I SO loved mail, both the sending and the receiving.) As for the weirdness — it’s not so much that I mind being weird, it’s just that I don’t really want to be alone in it. (I love that first definition on the MW site, and it cheered me enormously yesterday — thank you for that 🙂 .)

      Yes, banter IS one of life’s great joys! I’m so relieved you understand. I had hit publish and then immediately felt sick with anxiety (how small-minded and shallow am I? The world is going to hell-in-a-handbasket and I’m wanting to laugh about apostrophes?!) but this blackness is just so relentless and there just *has* to be some relief from this weight. I’m suddenly reminded of a post of yours, quite a while back, about the women in your family who use (or used) humour to get through life; I think banter and humour (and wit, let’s not forget wit!) are all part of what we humans need.

      I absolutely do need to find some other outlet, some other way to contribute or to make a difference, now that the library is gone for me. I’ve floated a couple of ideas in two separate arenas; now I just have to be patient (not my strong suit) and hope that something will come of one (or ideally, both) of these things.

      I would love to see a post from you on the progress you’re making in your home. I was so happy to hear you say (in a comment a few weeks ago) that you thought you had turned a corner with it 🙂 .

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  2. Oh, it was so good to open my reader after running about getting things *done* to find a post from you!

    I love the green of the yarn and I think it’s wonderful how you’ve managed to squeeze bits of time into socks, clothing, books read, and classes finished. (I should take notes.)

    One of my friends recently reminded me that what we give our energy to tends to be what we end up creating so for all my “fighting the black cloud” – I’ve ended up…fighting and feeling miserable. So I decided to accept and do what I can. It’s funny how much it has changed my feelings lately. (Much less dark cloud, more celebration of good stuff – and there really is so much good stuff!!) Your comments on banter made me think about that…the balance is important.

    And I agree with Rita. If you have the time and inclination, I’m sure there are many places other than the library that could use your man hours and skills!!

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    1. That’s exactly how I feel when I see a post from you pop into my inbox 🙂 .

      There’s so much wisdom in your friend’s words…and as much as I’ve known full well (in my head, logically) that all my worrying and ruminating just begets MORE worrying and rumination, it’s just SO damned hard to stop! I’m so glad to hear that you’re making progress in this department. (While you’re taking notes on my use of 15 minutes here and 10 minutes there, I shall be taking notes on your decision to “accept and do what I can” and seeing if I can find a way to do that, too.)

      As I said to Rita, I definitely do want to find another place/way I can contribute. But I also want to make sure that when I do, I’m actually using some of my skills. The love in the library relationship was being tarnished by the hate, and the hate was coming from a place of resentment, because I wasn’t using any skills (beyond being a good maid). I need to make sure there isn’t any of that in the next thing I do; resentment is such a useless and draining emotion…

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      1. “Resentment is such a useless and draining emotion…” Oh, so much of this. And it’s such a sneaky one too. Just the other day I was just pleasantly washing dishes, happily singing along to spotify, and then bam “Ugh. Why am I the only to ever do this. [I’m not] It’s such a dreadfully boring chore [well, yes] and no one appreciates how much work I put in to making their lives easier [which is true, but I’ve yet to meet someone who feels all warm and fuzzy about you when you tell them how much they should appreciate you. ;)] It’s so unfair.” I was out of sorts for a good hour after I was done when I wasn’t even bothered when I first started. It makes ZERO sense.

        And I completely understand wanting to use your skills!! It’s so easy to feel resentful when we don’t have the opportunity to use our “grown up brain.

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      2. Oh, I’ve been there, too! I suspect that immediately questioning the initial resentful thought is the best way to halt resentment in its tracks, before it has the opportunity to build up a head of steam. I think I had mentioned that I had seen a therapist for a few sessions last spring in order to come to grips with my runaway anxiety? Well, one of his pearls of wisdom was, “Thoughts are not facts.” This has become a bit of a mantra for me, and although I’m by no means perfect at it (because I still get painfully caught up in rumination), it has been helpful in the resentment department.

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