Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Clear Messages

Part of my mindfulness goals involve finding ways to do less. Be less busy. Be more intentional with how I spend my time.

Now my health is telling me the same thing. I've struggled with repeated sickness, a hoarse tired voice, and missing work for going on 5 months. I've been to the doctor, and eventually got a referral to an EMT.

He was delightful, gregarious and instantly sized me up with astonishing accuracy. "You are used to being able to do anything you want, and you aren't able to do that right now". He kept comparing my voice to Ferarri, in need of fine tuning.

Long story short, I have some small vocal nodes. He said it's nothing to be astounded by, and that someone who did not specialize in singers may not even had seen them. I also have some antibiotics to take to kick some minor sinusitis, and am supposed to call him back in a few days and let him know if I want allergy testing or a CT scan to determine if there is more making me unwell.

The message is loud and clear though. I need to be more conscientious about how I use my voice, and how I use my body.

I also received the first prescription I've ever heard of for voice lessons from a doctor.

Time to take care of myself and respect my instrument. And now, off to bed early.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Why is Minimalism always so bright white?

I'm very excited to be embarking on a journey towards simplicity with A Simple Year. It coincides with a lot of my goals around decluttering my home, preparing to move in with my partner, simplifying and de-busying my life, and being more deliberate with my finances.

I've been reading a lot more blogs about simplicity and minimalism when it comes to fashion, wardrobes and homes and a commonality that I keep seeing is white, black and pastels.
Source: ianmoorearchitects.com via stylemotivation.com

Don't get me wrong, I love a good black and white, especially in fashion. It's classy and clean. But I am a vibrant and colorful person.

Why is every single blog about minimalism and decluttering seem to think people want a pristine white (boring!) decor?

Where are my minimalists that love color and art? Clean surfaces and fewer items, a streamlines closet, everything in it's place. But with vivid design, textures and maybe a vintage feel?

Anyone help a girl out?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

MindShift - Thrift Stores

Thrifts store shopping is my family pastime. I finally accepted this when my parents came to visit a few years ago for Mother's Day and we had an hour to kill before lunch so we made a bee-line for the nearest Good Will and all came away with bags of treasures. It's in my blood.

Recent Thrift Store Find
Dance shoes! Score!
I've been working hard to pursue more minimalism and mindfulness in my possessions. The other day I took a couple of bags down to my local Value Village, and as per normal took a lap around the store to glance through coats, dress and shoes. I noticed for the first time that I was looking at the racks differently.

I've trained my eye, over the years, to pick out quality of material and construction on the rack. I hone in on the wools, silks and linens, and then consider if it would look good on me, match anything I own, or be a fun addition to my wardrobe. I arrive at the dressing room with a pile, and dive headfirst in, ruthlessly eliminating things that don't fit, don't work or I just don't like. I almost always come away with a handful of new treasures.

This time, as I cruised through my favorites, I didn't feel that same excitement wondering what new find would present itself to me. I instead found myself wondering if it went with the color palette I was focusing on (instead of the collect them all approach to color). I considered if I had any holes in my current wardrobe that I need to fill (I'm looking for a sport, high quality winter coat that I could wear hiking or out doors.... but not much else). In the past I would have simply wondered if I had anything exactly like it.

Rather then grabbing interesting colors and patterns I found myself thinking, "I don't need this, I have plenty of shirts like that, I wouldn't wear this, I have nicer dresses then this already".

It sounds like a subtle shift, but I quickly finished my lap, unimpressed, and left the store without a single purchase.

Tiny first steps for long lasting change.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Guilt over time off

November has been a rough month. I've been fighting off a cold basically since the end of September. My class has been growing, and most of my kids seem to have pretty difficult behavior issues. Lots of aggressiveness and anger. I've been in rehearsal for Night Before Christmas, and my weekends have been spent traveling to SCA events, visits to Ben, or other friends and family.

All of this is to say that I'm a little bit run down. Night Before Christmas is opening tonight and Monday night at dress rehearsal I felt that familiar twinge in my throat that indicates my voice is about to go.

I've been playing it easy, and holding back, but teaching all day plus rehearsing is totally killing me. I've also just been feeling exhausted. I decided to stay home Wednesday and sleep. I needed it, I had the sick time. Running myself into the ground does no one any good. But I felt HORRIBLY guilty.

In the past, I've been very judgey about colleagues, co-workers, cast mats calling in sick if they aren't actually sick. I've had friends call in because of hang overs, to socialize, do homework. I've never done that. I always made it to class as a student, and almost never call into work unless I'm literally throwing up, or can't get out of bed. Last year, I was actually home sick in bed for several days, laid out by a virus. At another time my colleagues made me go home because i literally couldn't speak. As a substitute I would go in when I had a cold, and some times I think I was sicker then the teacher who had stayed home.

But I have sick pay now. I have over 200 hours of sick leave now. And it's there for me to use when I'm not well. It does roll over, so I can save it for the future, in case I'm ever seriously ill. But it's there for me to use it. I am a better teacher if I am healthy. And staying home a couple of days right now can be the difference between me suffering through the last few weeks of school, or being engaged and heading energetically towards Winter Break. Not to mention, my show might be a casualty if I push myself to far.

But despite preparing, leaving good plans, and telling everyone ahead of time I have terrible guilt about taking the time. Is this anxiety? Imposter Syndrome? Am I worried I'm being lazy? What is this? Why can't I just accept that am not doing well and need the rest? I've never been particularly good at giving myself a break, and as a person who rarely gets TRULY sick, I think I often sell myself short when I'm just a bit under the weather. I may have a small cold for three weeks, instead of being laid out for just a couple of days.

Perhaps my recent focus on mindfulness and minimalism is allowing me to have more compassion for myself physically.

Either way, I'm staying home tomorrow and sleeping, and I feel confidant it's the right choice, and that guilty little voice can just shut up!

Friday, November 4, 2016

What do you do with a blank stare?

Today is Friday. In my classroom that means quiz day. I give quizzes every Friday to my students. They are typically short (2-5 questions) and are always re-takable for a higher grade.

My students slouch in and pour themselves into their desks. The energy in the room palpably falls as I remind them the expectations for the quiz. Dutifully they each complete their quiz to varied results and proceed to melt into human puddles. It's as if their heads are each made of lead and they can barely lift them from the surface of the desk, let alone sit upright enough to gaze at the board.

Despite having 30 minutes left in class (purposefully planned so I could continue instruction) I couldn't get them to do a single thing. With that level of 'quit', I am at a loss. When every other sentence out of my mouth is "please sit up, take your head off the table, open your eyes".

It's hard not to just want to scream at them "Wake up! Pay attention! I can't do this alone!".

Thursday, October 27, 2016

14 days of outfits: a reflection

I was trying out my idea of wearing blazers more often. Despite liking a vintage look, I don't accentuate my natural waist much in these outfits. 
 For two weeks I took a picture of my outfits, including when I headed out for a work out. This is part of The Curated Closet book (and work book!) that I'm using to further fine tune my wardrobe and sense of style.
I really love a few of these pieces. It's strange that I ended up using pink so much though. I don't think of myself as much of a pink wearer. 
In some ways there's a lot of variety in color, pieces, silhouettes and style. In other ways my 'uniforms' certainly start to stand out. It's also interesting which looks I like best when I see the picture in contrast with when I was wearing it. The outfit with the orange sweater under the brown cardigan and a purple patterned skirt was one I really liked to wear, but I don't like the way it looks in this photo as much. But maybe it's the crappy lighting.

I'm looking forward to using this reflecting to hone my wardrobe and create a cohesive sense of my style besides 'eclectic and colorful'.

You have to have a reason.

I have come to the decision that after my term as Kingdom Lists is finished, I'm intend to step away from the SCA. I feel like I've been searching for a spark and a draw for the last three years. I feel like I LIKE the SCA, I have fun when I go, and I enjoy the company, the history, the special culture of the SCA. I like being in the know and being involved in activities, tournaments, events, retinue etc. But... I only like it. Lately, while I have a good time participating, I am finding that I do SCA things and go to SCA events because it's what I do, and I feel like I should less then a drive and excitement about the event.
Company of squid hats

I see my friends excited about their new research, or taking on an office, or running an event, or learning a new skill, or improving their fighting. None of that excites me. I have a plan for an Anglo Saxon outfit, I've bought some of the fabric, I've purchased the book to use for research. And it sits there.

I have virtually no drive to go out and learn period music, or do research on period performance styles. I like the idea of sewing outfits, building garb, but I only seem to like the idea. I have a passing interest in the lifestyle of the average medieval person, and learning about what life was like, but the drive has cooled since it's height around 2011 or 12.

I recognize the challenge that the SCA faces as an organization with retention and recruitment. I feel guilty about not being interested. I feel like I am betraying an organization I love if I quit. I'm the sort of driven, organized, talented person that the SCA needs. But I don't know what I'm getting out of it.

If I lacked a sense of social connection or engagement, I have no doubt I could find it in the SCA. But I have lots of stimulus for social engagement. If I lacked intellectual stimulus or challenge, I could absolutely find that in the SCA, but I have my work, my band and many other things that provide challenge and intellectual stimulus. If I lacked creative outlet, I would use the SCA as a medium for creative expression, but I am expressing my art in a multitude of ways now, some of which I feel I don't have time to pursue to the degree that I would like.

I think I need to step away, without any sort of contingencies or time limits, and then see if I feel the loss in my life. If I miss it. If there's one thing I've learned recently, it's that the sentiment 'If you love something, let it go" is incredibly true. Perhaps when I don't have SCA events every few months, I'll feel the loss and recognize what exactly it is I'm draw from the SCA. Then I can reengage in a mindful, purposeful way.

In the meantime, I'll  finish out my term, and continue to dabble as I have been, perhaps I'll find that spark some time in the next year before my term is finished. But if not, that's ok.