I thought I'd take a self-portrait every day during Project 333 to keep me honest about not wearing anything that's not on my list. Nothing like a little public accounting! After a long day of classes and meetings, I took advantage of the lovely late-summer light to learn how to use the remote control for my camera. Tilly was quite intrigued, milling about me as I posed.
Keeping it random, I started using 750 Words at the beginning of the month. If you're familiar with The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, you'll know the concept of morning pages: write three pages, long hand, every day, right after waking up. They make a great brain dump, and over the years I've used them to work out plot problems as well as marital problems. They changed my life the first time I did them for a long period of time. Even if (or maybe even more so if) you don't see yourself as a writer, they are a useful tool. During the school year, I'm just not willing to wake up any earlier to get them in first thing. With 750 Words, I type my words (not exactly what Cameron would support, but still...) at all different times of day. Not the same as morning pages, but there is value. I'm working out plot problems even now!
The creator of 750 Words has launched a new website that intrigues me: Health Month. The premise is that you use it to set goals for the month that will help you to be healthier. The goals can relate to mental health, spiritual health, physical health. Whatever you want. You get placed into a bracket, track your progress for the month, and see what happens! I'm adding this to my challenges in October.
What have you been doing to challenge yourself lately? I hope it's fun and rewarding, whatever it is!
Since I woke up at 5:43 a.m.* (my alarm on George the iPhone is a harp; it is a nice way to be woken), I've been drawing a blank about what to write. I think every molecule of my creative energy has gone into teaching, planning, strategizing, and maintaining my good nature in the face of apathy. Other than that last, it is good stuff, but I'm tired, and I thought about skipping a post today. Or just shoving up a picture. I do that too much, though, so I decided instead to do what I urge on my students: think harder. Plus I really want to succeed at NaBloPoMo this month. So here it goes.
I love the moment when an idea that has been circling around the side of my brain sharpens. Comes into focus. Is clear.
That's how I think. I don't get stuff. I try, but I don't get it. I think about it all the time (it= whatever problem I'm not getting). This can go on for a year or more sometimes. My ex-husband liked to say that I am a big slow mover after the Phil Cody song.
Today, during my break between teaching at the college and teaching the SAT prep class, I took the mutts (yes, Manise, the chipmunk-killing, foul-thing-eating, nasty-poop-from-wild-beasts-rolling mutts) for their afternoon walk. The light this time of year is at its prettiest. If I didn't need to get ready for Round Two of teaching, I would have gone for miles.
A proposal for a themed Comp 102 class I'd submitted was on my mind. Revision was requested, and as I brain stormed with my colleague, I thought I had it all figured out. As I tried to rewrite it today, though, I knew that I wasn't satisfied. And something our Composition Coordinator wrote in her email to the Comp teachers was sticking in my head, right near the place where my thoughts about the class I really want to teach were circling. She wrote that she was thrilled by the variety of proposals and to see the interests of our faculty being translated into a wide range of themed courses (I paraphrase loosely).
So there I am, stuff swirling in my head, the light looking fine, a longing to stay home and knit rather than teach high schoolers how to navigate the SAT Reading Comprehension questions, and Bingo! Pop! Bottle Rocket!
I GET it. I get what I'm supposed to propose. Clear as the light. Almost fully shaped. Like Athena popping out of her daddy's brain.
Tomorrow I will completely revamp my proposal and shape into a class I want to call "English Composition 102: Writing about TEXTiles". See, our program is striving to move away from a purely literature-based 102 into a text-based 102. What interests me almost as much as writing? Fiber. Textiles.
I've got some ideas about what I might use for readings (but, hey, if you have scholarly essays about fiber arts, I'd love to hear about them), and I'm almost certain about the writing assignments. That's work for tomorrow, though.
There you have it. My thinking process. It's nice when it actually works!
*I have a theory that setting the alarm for an odd time is more effective than an even time. I would never set it for, say, 5:45 or 5:40. 5:42, sure. 5:47, you bet. 5:30, no way.
In 2000, I moved from a large-ish (950 sq. ft.) apartment to a small-ish one (650 sq. ft.). I had to think hard about everything in the small apartment. In 2004, I moved to New Mexico with what fit in my car (which Neal packed to the hilt, but still, a car is small). Sure, my parents shipped my books, and my girlfriend Cheryl visited me with a duffel bag of clothes and other items I wanted, but almost everything fit in that car! Since I moved back East and have my very own room and several bookshelves that Neal built for me, I've accumulated. I've gotten quick to order a book that looks interesting or to snap up a skein of hand-painted yarn that looks pretty.
And clothes. I love my clothes.
Ultimately, though, I think I'd be happier with less of everything. Right now my office is so cluttered that I can't even work on my desk. It's embarrassing. I've been reading a lot of blogs about simplicity, including the Minimalist Knitter, who has been inspiring me to rethink my approach to crafting, and Courtney's Be More with Less. I arrived at Courtney's blog when The Uniform Project mentioned it. The day I first visited, Courtney had posted about a challenge that is right up my ally:
My list is a work in progress, but with 17 days until the start of the project, it is time to share it in draft form. So, here it goes.
1. Little Black Dress from the Uniform Project. I may want to lower the hem to make it more wearable, but this will be versatile for work and holiday parties alike.
2. Graphic print jersey dress. Black, gray, and white. I got this at TJ Maxx over the summer, and I wore it for the first time today. I love the way it looks, and I can wear it with a cardi to change the look.
3. Black slacks from the Gap. I got these 30% off a couple of weeks ago. Great staple.
4. White blouse from the Gap. Bought at 30% off, too. Another great basic piece.
5. Black cardigan. I've had this one for a while.
6. Gray cardigan. This one has some special details like long cuffs with buttons. Looks good with jeans or dressed up.
7. Print blouse. I have to chose from the handful in my closet, but there is a floral one I like more than the others. It is not quite as dressy, so it will work for casual dressing as well as part of a teaching outfit.
8. Gray skirt. A nice a-line that Neal gave me for Christmas last year.
9. Another skirt. Maybe my jean skirt, which can be for work or casual, but I'm not sure. I also have a print skirt that I enjoy wearing, but it doesn't work for casual wear.
10. and 11. Two black tank tops. I wear tanks almost every day, all year round.
12. and 13. Jeans. One pair is dressier and appropriate for teaching. The other pair is my go-to weekend pair.
The Shoes.This is where I fall apart and have to think harder about my choices.
14. BBC Boots. I wore these for the first time yesterday. Cute! Comfy! Good for work or play. Wish they had come in red when I bought them, but I didn't order via Fluevog and got a sweet, sweet deal.
15. Chinoa Boots. Best. Boots. Ever. They go with every single item on my Basics list.
16. Gray Malibrans. Oh, how I long for the orange, but these are just fun enough to make me happy.
17. Pink and Black Pearl Harts. My most comfortable pumps. I'd like these in all black, too. I wear these a lot for a little surprise of color.
I have a pair of baby blue slingbacks that I'd like to keep on the list, but I think I have to replace them with a pair of easy-to-slip-on casual shoes.
This is a challenge because I love to pile on my bracelets, which are all steeped in meaning and inspiration for me.
18. Watch. I can't do without my watch at work, especially since none of my classrooms have working clocks, but it is not on the exemption list.
19. Necklace. I wear one necklace almost every day. Neal gave it to me when I lived in New Mexico, and he said the mother of pearl pendant was meant to remind me of the sky over the ocean in New England on a winter's day. Any jewelry he buys from me comes from our talented local jeweler, and whenever I go in to have my wedding ring checked, she is so pleased to see the necklace, too!
20. Clapotis. This is one of my favorite items I've knit, and I can't imagine being without it. I can use it as part of an outfit as well as to keep me warm.
The Stuff I'm Not Sure About
Lucky 13 items left, but here is what is still up for debate.
21. Coat of some sort. I'm thinking my jean jacket as I won't want anything heavier until late November, most likely.
22. Green vest. In case it is colder than I expect during the latter part of the project.
23. Toast. I need something for my hands, and these are my most versatile item, better than a glove unless the temps really fall fast.
25. A pair of khakis. I have a pair that need to be hemmed, but I've lost some weight since I bought them on sale at J. Crew this summer, so the fit might be off. Might be good crossover basics.
26. and 27. Long-sleeved v-neck t-shirts in black or maybe a bright color
28. Orange crew neck cabled sweater.
29. A ring? There's one I wear a lot, but maybe I can do without any. BTW, wedding ring doesn't count!
30. Perseverance bracelet. I buy bracelets as rewards and reminders of my big accomplishments. This one could stand in for all the others, at least until 1/1/11.
31. A black turtleneck. The one I loved got too holey (Maddie chewed it as a puppy, and I simply could no longer keep it in good repair), so I'd have to find another to replace it.
32. A bag. I have two black ones between which I'm deciding.
33. Still deciding!
So. Why do this? As I typed my list, I found myself telling a little story about a lot of the items. Many of my clothes are not just things to keep me presentable, but they also have different levels of sentimental value. I don't plan to donate all of the clothes that don't make the cut on 10/1, but I do plan to sift through them with a more critical eye. I hope to pare back, to work towards what I've wanted for a long time: a high-quality wardrobe, each item of which is worn often, fits well, and expresses my personality.
JessaLu has been singing the praises of hooping for a while, and last night I had the chance to give it a try. People, hooping with a "real" hoop--not the lightweight numbers from childhood--is amazing. Ah. Maze. Ing. So much fun.
Last night we went to a party at a friend and colleague's home. She's a fantastic hostess, and we were celebrating the birthday of another friend and colleague. Plenty of fun right there. Lo, what did I learn? The hostess has a hoola history! Her husband makes hoops, so there were plenty to go around.
After a few fumbling attempts, I "got" the basic hooping. I could have kept going all night, what with the 80s music the deejay was spinning and the fantastic company and all. I didn't want to be a hoop hog, though.
When our hostess showed off her tricks, well, I saw hooping in an entirely new way. I've put in my order for a hoop, and I cannot wait to learn how to make the most of it. I haven't been so fired up in ages! Anything new have you fired up, too?
Here's a clip of a cool hooper (not from the party...wish I'd had my camera going!):
Nine years ago, on the prettiest late summer day, innocence was killed. Rather than wallow in grief, however, America put our chin out, raised our flags high and proud, and filled the holes in our collective heart with small kindnesses. We retold stories of brave acts. We strove to be better people, worthy of the country we love.
The wounds still feel fresh; the grief may never recede completely. On this day of remembrance, I hope that the overwhelming desire to help gains strength again, and the very best of our collective American nature rises in each of us.
The pattern promises to be Carefree, and that's just what Jen Hansen's sweet shawl is. This was my take-along project all summer, and today, with the chill of fall in the air, I dropped by the university's library to gift it to my favorite librarian. Our library is notoriously chilly, and I hope it keeps her warm all year round. There is a lot of summer sunshine knit into those stitches, after all!