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Art for Art’s Sake

I completed month 2 of my 6 months of art. What I learned from month 2 is that life can easily get in the way of finishing. In fact, with the holidays, I actually did not finish my second project. As you can see in the image, it does appear finished, but I meant to finish the coffee pot with red.

December projects

I really do like the little cinnamon rolls. I also do think the red would balance it out. Perhaps I will come back to it. But not finishing is a reoccurring theme for me.

January is the month of video. I already do work on videos every month on YouTube. Sometimes I post every week, sometimes every other week. So for this month, I was trying to think of what my project would be. What specific skills do I want to learn? What specific project do I want to work on? Before the month started I found myself unsure of what to work on. I considered a daily Vlog. I considered a specific video to work on or a specific style. And to be honest, I am not 100% sure. I did start recording today, but I still need to come up with some ideas. We will see what happens!

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A Stitch in Time

Embroidery is something women in my family did. My mom used to embroider various little projects like table runners. My aunt taught me how to do a basic backstitch and attempt letter. I have done cross-stitch projects occasionally, but generally, I found them a little unsatisfying. I usually chose them because I thought they were easier, but just making Xs gets boring. Because of my (limited) experience, for the month of December, I decided to work on embroidery as my creative work. I finished the basic project from the last post about midway through the month. That was a good way to practice some basic stitches I might need like the satin stitch, lazy daisy stitch, french knot etc. From there I wanted to be sure that the next piece was a creative endeavor and not just a predetermined image chosen from JoAnn’s Fabrics. I decided I would embroider something that I drew, which, to be honest, is not a skill I have. I don’t draw. So instead I traced. I traced an image from a cookbook that I like onto a flour sack towel and I chose the colors (although I did not stray much from the original).

What I find is that making time every weekday for a project is the hardest part. Discipline. I start out thinking I have all the time in the world and that I can finish an ambitious amount of work. But then I don’t. And this lesson applies far beyond this month’s project. I have a little more than a week to finish my flour sack towel. But I am really enjoying making these little cinnamon rolls.

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25K Words Later: Nanowimo is done!

Month 1 Complete

Creative project: Nanowrimo

Last night, when I went to bed my phone said it was 19 degrees outside. Nineteen. Winter has arrived in the Pacific Northwest and I need to get into a habit of taking Vit D. Gray skies and lots of time indoors are here.

For November, I did nanowrimo and although I did write 25k +/- words, I didn’t finish my project. Towards the end, I started to wonder if this project was really one I wanted to put out into the world. Typically, that kind of doubt is centered on whether I want people to read what I wrote because they might think it’s terrible? Or did I just overshare-now everyone will know what I think?? But this time, I really found myself glad that wrote it and organized it for my sake but perhaps that was enough.

I wrote about walking and the time we spent walking the Camino de Santiago this year. It was and continues to be a strange, adventurous year. Perhaps all of that work of writing was more of a good exercise in reflection so I could move on to the next things.

This month, I am looking forward to switching creative modes and I am working on embroidery. Not just as a task or skill that ends in a product, but also as a creative endeavor. I am starting the month by practicing stitches with this simple embroidery project.

After I finish this, I am planning to create something of my own design. We will see how it goes. Anyone else getting creative this winter?

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Long Time No Blog

I haven’t written here for a while. I’ve been working on 12 thousand other creative projects, and I realize that it might be the reason none of them have gone very far. I really haven’t been able to focus on one thing consistently. But I have learned a lot from them. The biggest thing is that I am no longer willing to put off a creative life. This summer while we walked the Camino, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to a nursing or edu job right now. We changed our entire lives by selling our house, building out the van, and planning some exciting adventures. And a bunch of it was really challenging. But while I was walking day after day, I really just knew I couldn’t go back to the way it had been.

But I have no idea what I am doing.

We’ve been back in Washington for the winter and here I am trying to figure it out. But 45 days later in this apartment, I am no closer. Some days I am like, fine I’ll just get a job as a nurse. And other days, I am like nooooooo. It’s been a real struggle to even imagine a job I want to do at all. The best I came up with was Barista or baker. 🙂

I recently came up with an idea for a way to spend the next 6 months. And it starts with Nanowrimo. Which starts in a few days. So, here I go.

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Mediocre

I told one of my friends from grad school that I am ready for mediocre. Growing up I always felt like I wanted to do something important, something that made a difference. It’s probably why I chose nursing, although it wasn’t my first choice of careers. But I was good at science and wanted to make a difference. I also had a problem with wanting to be a people pleaser which meant I never did work without thinking most about how it would be received. That is, graded by teachers, received by patients, viewed by coworkers. Everyone else’s judgement of my work was always more important than my own. Because of that, I regularly felt crushed by feed back. I constantly thought I wasn’t good enough. A lot of ideas I had early in my adult life I would never attempt or quit because of fear of failure or criticism.

But as I got older, I started trying more doing more and trying to work past my work not being received well. I started believing I was good at some things and I worked very hard at them. But I still struggled with anxiety about failing or doing things poorly. But mostly I kept looking for ways to work hard to make a difference.

The pandemic has changed the way I think about work. Lately I’ve been thinking, I am tired of work. What’s the point of work? What’s the point of 40 hours? Who is my work for? And can my work be for me?

I think this is really an exploration of the idea that I, personally, can let go of working for others in a way that leaves very little for me. I have known this for a while. But practicing it regularly has been a challenge, because I constantly find myself jumping back into old ways of thinking. I think I should be working harder, proving my worth as an employee, looking for advancement, helping the organization be better, etc. But at the same time I feel compelled to do that, I think to myself why? Why should I? Why should I be a model employee? Why can’t I be mediocre and let things go instead.

So the other day, I told my friend I want to be mediocre. I want work to shrink in it’s importance and to let all of the other things grow. More books, more art, more hiking, more time with people I love. I am ok with not being significant and just being average.

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Newly Empty Nesters buy Van to build into a Camper Van.

#vanlife

We bought a van. We’ve been looking at vans and talking about this for like a year. We saved up the money over the last few months and bought a 2013 Ford Econoline 150 passenger van. We plan to rip out the bench seats, the carpet, etc and turn it into a camper van. I think it will be a fun project to keep us occupied in the remainder of the Pandemic and my husband has been wanting a camper van for years.

The next steps include cleaning it out and planning a floor plan for the campervan. We aren’t quite 100% on the same page with the van but we are working on it.

Things we definitely want in the van:

  • Bed long enough for me (5’10)
  • Sink for hand washing/meal prep
  • Toilet
  • Window coverings
  • Good air circulation
  • Storage
  • Room to put a mountain bike
  • Lights
  • Fridge?
  • Ceiling fan?

I’m excited about all of the possibilities for this van. So much of the things that have been hard in a pandemic in winter and that includes not being able to be out traveling and enjoying nature. Also, I have been telling my husband I want to have adventure. We all know tomorrow is not guaranteed. But we have competing priorities so we say, I can to do that later. When the kids grow up. When I retire. When I have more time. And now, the kids are grown up and later feels like now to me. So adventures, here we come!

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So this is the New Year

And I don’t feel any different.

I find that the Pandemic gives me ups and downs.

Ups: my husband has now had 2 vaccine doses. We have no debt! We have a good savings. We both work. The kids are ok. One is moving to Canada! We could do lots of things with our future.

Downs: the country is a wreck. Half of the country voted for a wreck and I find those people unrelatable. Is there going to be more vaccine? Will we ever be able to travel? I am tired of being away from people. Are we stuck in this crappy present? How much longer do we have to do this.

I’ve been reading a ton. It’s been a good way to cut the bad. I’ve read a lot of books around WWII.

Last weekend we took a trip to a little cabin with no cell signal or wifi. It was a lot of fun. I read, hiked and wrote. I did nothing for a purpose, only for enjoyment. We had no news so it was like nothing bad was real for a weekend. Time was suspended. I decided to give myself a weekend of that every month. Maybe it will get me through the next few months while things possibly get better?

My husband has seemingly adapted to living here after 3 months. He loves it, he says. He’s buying a mountain bike. Me? I’ve gotten used to 40 degree weather, but 30s are hard. I’m still cold a lot. I try to get out and walk or hike. But I still feel like this is a place we are visiting. I’m not sure what happens after April.

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So much depends on the weather

I hope you had a good Christmas.

Recently, my husband told me that Death Cab for Cutie was formed right here in the city we moved too. If you don’t know, DCFC is one of my favorite bands. And Transatlanticism is the perfect album to play with the gray winter days. I am definitely going to be listening the New Year for the new year.

We got snow on the winter solstice, and it was pretty while it was falling. It didn’t feel so unbearably cold. I even went outside in it. But the next day it was cold and icy. Poor Teddy almost fell on the steps and in the street. I almost slipped on someone else’s driveway.

It rained the day after Christmas so the snow is gone now. And luckily so is the ice. But while it was here, mornings were 27° and we were wondering how long Teddy could be outside in it. I’ve seen lots of people take pictures or videos of their dog in snow, but now that we are here, I’ve been wondering how long his paws can be out in the snow.

When we were moving here, my friend Amber told me about what’s different in Washington from living in California. Like how some railroad tracks don’t have arms that come down when a train is coming. But she also said, she had to adjust to how the weather plays a big part in what you do. And honestly, in Southern California, traffic plays a bigger role than weather.

My husband was playing a video where a guy said there is no bad weather, just bad gear and bad attitudes. I am definitely in the needs better gear and a better attitude department.

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I Am Tired of Living Through This

Will started working last week. It’s a little bit of a big deal because he worked at the same hospital for almost 20 years. This was a big change. New people. New electronic medical record. Even new IV start kits.

That’s something that people outside of nursing may not know. That when you move from one hospital to another, the charting system can be totally different. I don’t know if that happens in other jobs. I mean, microsoft word and Excel stay the same from place to place. But for nurses, everything you click on looks different. And charting is like 40% of our work.

I’ve been working at home still. We’ve been busy too. My work from home job involves reading a lot of medical records and typing up summaries about people’s cancer. It’s a lot of reading and writing mostly. With a side of worrying. I never was like that before. Maybe because most of my work has been with leukemia and lymphoma, more rare occurrences. Now I am reading about people’s melanoma, breast and colon cancers. And all of the stories are “was in their usual state of health until abdominal pain and constipation.” I know, it’s totally vague. Lots of these start off seemingly benign sounding, and then it turns out they have a malignancy. Like back pain or something and then they already have mets.

I’m glad to be at home during this covid time. Every day we hear about someone else we know who had it. Is that the same for everyone else? But I know it means I am not a priority for vaccines. My husband will probably get one soon but who knows when I will. Maybe summer? I haven’t heard an exact time line beyond healthcare personnel and there seem to be a lot of logistics with that much vaccination.

Lately on my mind is how long should we stay here? What if I can’t go to Canada? Should we go somewhere else? How long do I stay at this job? But mostly, I am tired of living in a pandemic. I am tired of the enormity of it. All of the things add up. The vigilance, the distance from people, the worry about your own health and your family’s, the economic cost, the sheer amount of loss we are all enduring…it’s just so heavy. Most days I am lucky enough to keep it as background noise. But sometimes, if I think too long on it, it feels so exhausting.

I also keep thinking, is this how the roaring 20s happened? They came off of WWI and a pandemic and just let loose. Will that happen to us too?

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Vignettes

Trash

The trash service is a little more customizable than we are used to. At home, we signed up for trash service and on the trash day, they came and picked up our green can, our regular trash and our recycling. Here you can set up your account for every other week, every week or monthly. You can also choose different size containers. The previous tenant had ever other week

We made the service every week and the first 2 weeks, we had a lot of trash. The first week, they didn’t pick it up because they thought it was still every other week. We had just moved and we had so much trash. On trash day of the second week, it was super windy in the morning. The recycling containers are 3 small plastic bins with no lids, not a big bin with a lid like we are used to. Paper, cardboard, bottles and cans are divided up in them.

Shortly after he put the trash out, Will looked out the kitchen window and saw paper, cans, and cardboard blowing across the ground. It was our trash blowing down the street and into the neighbor’s yard. He ran after it all trying to find all of the pieces.

White people

This town is 82% white. Every where you look, it’s white people. The city we came from was 63% white. It doesn’t seem like a big difference but going from 8 to 1.5% Black people and 35% of people being Hispanic/Latino to 9% is very noticeable. It’s weird to have so much less diversity. There are Black Lives Matter signs on like 50% of the businesses, which you don’t see in LA. When I say signs, I mean lettered onto the windows, not a hanging poster. I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s marketing or genuine.

We went to the farmer’s market yesterday and there was a guy making a few different filipino lunch combos. We ordered some lumpia and pancit. While we waited, ever other person who came asked what each item was and asked if it was spicy. What’s chicken adobo? What’s pancit? It was brand new to them. He told us he is trying to get a food truck.

Mushrooms

I’m not a fan of mushrooms 🍄. I don’t eat them much. Mainly in salad, preferably not cooked, and usually the basic white ones. Will has been buying different ones and trying them out. I’ve been fascinated by what we see out on the trails. On the sides of trees and under ferns. But I am still not going to eat them.