A Day of Rest and Random Thoughts

Everyday Adventures

Because some days all you need is a comfy couch, a soft blanket, and a good book to get lost in.

Not that I didn’t have other things to do, yesterday–I started the weekend off with quite a full to-do list in my planner. And after the flurry of accomplishment last weekend, part of me wanted to keep up the streak.

But it had been a long week, ending with Mom’s car forgetting how to talk to the transmission around mid-day Friday (early appraisal from the mechanic suggests that it’s a cable or connector between the gear shift and the transmission, not something more serious).

After our walk on Saturday–that I completed without wanting to chop off my legs 3/4 of the way through: progress!–I worked on small but important projects and made it to bed before it was super-late.

Sunday morning, though, I was dragging. I settled on the aforementioned couch intending to read for a bit, just until I woke up some more, and then I would start on that day’s list. Todd left to do the grocery shopping and returned to find me in virtually the same position. Later he went out to mow the lawn–I kept reading.

By this point I was committed to finishing the book, which took the better part of the afternoon. About the only thing I regret is that the next book in this series is not available via Kindle Unlimited, like the first one. But the first book was good enough to make it a high chance I’ll pay for the second one outright.

I have no styled or stage picture of the sofa, blanket, and book–they’re not photo worthy, just comfy. Not everything is a photo op, right?

So my laundry didn’t get done. I’m in no danger of running out of clean clothes. But the rest and relaxation? Oh, that is priceless, and way too easy to pass over sometimes.

School started in my county, today. It seems incredibly early to me. But the beginning of the school year means things will start picking up downtown and we’ll start our headlong rush towards the holidays. First things first, the weekend is First Friday and I’ll be out at Studio 209 with the Artists Collective, selling an assortment of my work (canvases, jewelry, and comics), then Saturday is the YEP Bar Crawl in celebration of the end of Thomasville’s Prohibition dry spell!


It’s open to the public so if you’re in the area, come out and play!

Supply orders have been arriving for the first Creative Mischief Kits, which will start shipping in September. Four out of Five night, last week, saw boxes waiting on my doorstep. In order to get on the mailing list (and get a chance to order the kits early and at a reduced price) head over to TheCraftyBranch.com to sign up for our mailing list.



Everyday Adventures

I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately–with all the things I want to do, with everything go on around me, with the desire to chuck it all and just sleep for a week–and while I’m not giving into any urges that would being permanently damaging I am trying to be a bit more conscious of a few things that I tend to forget from time to time:

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

It’s true, I’m a bit impatient at times. I love projects and endeavors that provide instant gratification. And while I won’t go so far as to claim that the wait is always worth it, some things are worth waiting for or taking my time on. (Let me repeat that a few times to myself again.)

In the case of the house, we’re still not finished unpacking but we’re getting there. Where we’re no longer in a hurry is on the renovation front. For a couple of reasons (looming holidays, taxes, etc.) we’re putting off any real renovation until 2015 and we’re okay with that. After all, we’re planning to be in this house for a long time, so why not live in the space for a bit before we start making decisions about how to change it.


We did decorate for Halloween, though, and that was fun. So far it’s just the outside (and having a bigger outside to dress up means I definitely need more items, but it’s coming along) but the inside is high on the priority list.

Have Fun Without Guilt

All work, no play, you know the rest. But it’s less about becoming “dull” and more about being happy. Even though I have a mountain of things I want to accomplish, if all I ever do is work on whittling that list down what will I have to show for it? Where will the memories of a happy life lived come from?

So I’ve been playing a bit, lately. Last night I was feeling super rundown so I changed into pajamas right after supper and dug out my copy of Practical Magic and just chilled. the fuck. out. I’m not saying that watching the antics on-screen completely restored me (neither did going to bed a bit early) but it helped. And reminding myself that I deserve a little downtime helped assuage the guilt coming from the unchecked items in my planner.

We Make Our Own Rules

Aside from the whole ‘death and taxes’ bit, the only rules that are important are the ones we make ourselves. We agree to certain rules as part of a lawful/moral society, but beyond that we retain autonomy over our own lives. Just because ‘they’ do it that way doesn’t mean I have to; especially if their way is dragging me down.

I’ve been examining some of these ‘rules’ and finding out (like the pirate code) that they’re really more just guidelines. And some of those guidelines are going on the shelf for a bit (if not forever) while I create new rules and structures that suit my purposes better.

So, yes, I’ve been spending a bit of time in my own head these past few days as well as spending some time thinking about very little at all, and just coasting for a bit. It’s important to note that, from a creative standpoint, I’m not blocked or frozen. The ideas keep coming and the hows keep getting answered and I’m still planning and plotting my next phases. I’m just not so much on the action at the moment.

And that’s okay.

The Other Side of Ambition

Creative Business

It was late one Sunday morning not too many weekends ago. I’d slept in after a long week and a busy Saturday and woke up not feeling so well. My head was stuffy, my throat was sore, it was the usual precursor to an out-of-season cold and I decided that everything on my to-do list was getting pushed. I camped out on the sofa and binge-watched season 2 of Orange is the New Black.

Now, I still think this was the correct course of action to take: my body was telling me I needed rest. Next to planning downtime to prevent it in the first place, it was the best thing to do in the interest of self care.

Self care. Taking care of ourselves. It’s a big buzzword (buzz phrase?) among Internet entrepreneurs and I’m a big proponent of it.

Which is why I was surprised to notice, as the afternoon wore on, that I was apologizing for not being up and doing something when Todd got home from the grocery store.

Now, keep in mind that Todd had not said one word about me taking the day “off,” other than asking if he could get me anything or making sure I was tucked in sufficiently on the sofa. Aka: standard Jenn’s-run-down procedure (that there is even a procedure tells me I let this happen too often, as it is). And I wasn’t apologizing in words, necessarily, it was my body language that I noticed: head down, shoulder’s drawn in, small steps–my way of trying to blend in to the wallpaper and not be noticed, a trait I developed as a kid when the parents were fighting.

Where was this guilt coming from?!

Because the deeper I looked, that’s what this was: guilt. Specifically guilt over not working every waking moment to achieve my personal goals. Those goals that keep me up and busy every evening and most weekends. Those goals that have me spending 99% of my vacation time working weekend conventions to sell my book.  Those goals that will one day enable me to check out from the day job and support myself with my writing and art skills.

Those goals are a bit of a task master!

And that’s when I realized that guilt is the other side of ambition, the shadow of our dreams of greatness (or even just better-ness) that will rob us of our very souls before we reach our goals. The idea that we’re only fully-committed to those goals if we’re actively working on them 24/7. But what good is working 24/7 if you’re too tired and burned out to enjoy it?

So that was the script I had to flip: it wasn’t enough to acknowledge the good of self care without writing myself a virtual permission slip. And the terms of the permission slip needed to be exact, to include the words ‘and feel no guilt’ about taking time to rest and recuperate as needed.

The next few weeks are going to be hectic. The move is coming up so there’s packing to do and the new house to prepare. I’ve got some deadlines to meet and some client work to keep up with. There’s still the day job, of course, and whatever else inevitably comes up as it seems to do with greater frequency if you’re already busy. Finding the time to rest and recharge is going to be tough.

But not impossible.

Instead of shutting the laptop at 11pm each night, maybe I’ll stop at 10:30. Maybe we’ll get take-out a night or two over the next couple of weeks to save us both the time or preparing and cleaning up from a meal. Maybe I say to hell with the mountain of boxes on Sunday afternoons and go take a bubble bath with a nice glass of wine. It might only buy me a half an hour in any given direction, but those half-hours will add up, and maybe I’ll avoid waking up some Sunday morning in the future with a headache, a sore throat, and a general feeling of malaise.

Is there a specter of guilt standing in the shadow of your ambition? Time to shine a light on it!

A Day of Rest

Everyday Adventures

It’s a rare day when I can discard all my to-dos and just rest and relax. Even if I don’t have to leave the house, I usually have plenty to keep my occupied, usually of the be a grown-up sort.

With the exception of going to the grocery store (because putting it off would mean squeezing it into already-hectic evenings to come), I managed to do just that.

Here’s what Sunday looked like:

  • Sleep til noon
  • Take meds, brush teeth and return to bed
  • Turn on episode of Veronica Mars (I never got into the show when it was actually running, but I got curious about it when the movie came out, so I’m watching through the series thanks to Amazon Prime and my Roku box–it’s probably available on Netflix, too, I just found it on Amazon, first)
  • Foraging mission for late breakfast (have to wait 30 minutes after meds) and return with spoils to be, start another VM episode
  • Continue to binge-watch VM while cutting out patterns for doll clothing and organizing into envelopes
  • Around 5:30 decide it’s time to get showered, dressed, and brave the store for next week’s provisions
  • Home by 7:30, back into pjs, back into bed
  • Finish season 2 of VM; husband serves dinner in bed because he’s the sweetest guy in the world
  • Watch first two episodes of season 3
  • TV off just after 11pm and read a few articles in Period Living magazine
  • Back asleep by midnight

Now, it wasn’t that I suddenly had nothing to do on Sunday–there was plenty I could have been working on (and maybe should have, in some cases), but I needed the break. We were actually supposed to our gaming group over that afternoon but the plans changed, and rather than fill the hole with other things, I took the out.

Part of the reason is because I was doing this on Saturday morning:

The Lofty Pursuits Community Marching Band

The Lofty Pursuits Community Marching Band

And that was after doing this on Friday night:

Looks like I'll be wearing long skirts for a while.

Looks like I’ll be wearing long skirts for a while.

A sure-footed mountain goat I am not! In my attempt to avoid splashing my very cute (faux suede) shoes in puddles at the end of practice, Friday night, I lost my balance and ended up a bit worse for wear: knee and shin connected with one of those parking stop thingies and I did something wonkifying to my hip, as well, in the process of eventually landing ass-deep in a small lake. Nothing so bad as to keep me from walking in the parade the next day (thanks to elevation, ice, and 2 Aleve after the incident), but still not what you’d call optimal conditions.

It felt so good being a slug on Sunday that I do not regret a single thing that went un-worked-on that day. I wasn’t insta-grumpy upon waking today and I have high hopes for the rest of the week. While I don’t see getting to indulge like that on a weekly basis, it’s nice to reaffirm that my world won’t fall to pieces if I take a legit weekend off here and there.

Did anyone else engage is a recent slug-fest?

44 Massage | The Laying On of Hands

64 Arts

Our next art is focusing on various forms of self-care–something many of us do not do enough of, much to our body and soul’s detriment.

44 Massage and care of the body and hair

Vigorous massage using the feet or hands, delicately on the hair giving it an aesthetic set.

I have tendinitis in both my thumbs. This kinda gets in the way when I’m working on a project, writing, or typing. Hell, it gets in the way of sleeping if the flare-up gets bad enough, and some nights it has. While it may sound counter-intuitive to poke an aching area, my first inclination has always been to make a sort of fist with the hand that hurts, using the last 3 fingers to apply pressure to the padded bit below my thumb, where the pain concentrates. And it helps.


It’s the same way when we bump into something we grab at or rub the affected area. Part of that is, I’d imagine, is to check the level of damage done–is there a knot? is there blood? how bad does it hurt?–but it also serves the purpose of soothing, both physically and emotionally. Emotionally? Yes–haven’t you ever rubbed a friends back when they’re upset as a way of saying ‘I know it hurts, but I’m here for you’ when words maybe weren’t possible or felt inadequate? I know I have.

And this (again, this is me theorizing on the topic, so don’t take it as gospel) is where I think the practice of massage comes from. Our bodies know instinctively what to do in so many situations, and one day someone must have noticed and it became a thing and a practice instead of just a reflex. And then as we learned more about physiology and the way the nerves run through our bodies, it made more and more sense to press area A to relieve tension in quadrant 3.

Or something like that.

These days massage therapy is done by licensed professionals and, in a lot of cases, should be left up to them. Along with knowing how we can help by apply pressure in just the right spot in just the right way, came the knowledge of how pressure applied the wrong way, at the wrong angle, or to the wrong spot could cause more pain or severe damage to affected systems.

Vulcan Neck Pinch anyone?

That doesn’t mean we can’t at least try to assuage our own issues (be it tension or pain) as long as we keep one main thing in mind:

If it hurts: Stop!

And only the person in pain can determine the difference between ouch-pain and ooh-that-hurts-but-it’s-helping-pain, so make sure you’re listening if you’re lending a hand to a friend.

Since I’m not a licensed massage therapist, I don’t want to give out any information that could be misleading or cause injury, but I think the following tips are safe enough to share:

  1. Start with gentle pressure and move to firmer pressure if you feel the spot warrants it. Don’t start with deep-tissue massage techniques until you’ve tried a gentler method first so as not to aggravate an already painful area.
  2. Don’t depend only on your thumbs. A friend of mine did go through massage therapy school and shared that the biggest occupational hazard seemed to be damage to the masseurs thumbs from all the pressure put on them. So use your whole hand, the palm of your hand, or a handheld massage tool if you like to keep from causing injury to your hands.
  3. Keep track of your breathing and mood. If you’ve every gone in for a massage treatment, the lights are usually soft, the music or ambient noise is low–it’s all to get you to relax. Massage works on muscle tension, and it’s going to be super-tough to work out a knot if the rest of you isn’t cooperating. Take some deep breaths and concentrate on positive thoughts while you massage.
  4. Short sessions spread out over the course of a day may be more helpful than one longer, more intense session. Just like in exercise where the muscles get used and then are allowed a resting period to relax and repair, massage spread out over time may have more lasting effects than a single session. When you’re working a single spot–like a sore shoulder or a charlie horse in your leg, try for just 30 seconds and then wait a while.
  5. If your skin is dry or sensitive, adding lotions or oils could prevent irritation. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy–just your usually moisturizer or body lotion will do–or you could go the essential oil route (just make sure your using diluted oils–never apply essential oils directly to the skin as their concentrations can cause unpleasant skin reactions). For a sports injury or other irk with an obvious cause, using a product like Ben-Gay or IcyHot could, of course, also work to help ease that sort of inflammation of tissues.

Ultimately the directive is simple: take care of your body and it will take care of you. We ask a lot of ourselves throughout the days, weeks, months, and years, it’s only fair that we give something back to it.

And what does this have to do with living creatively? Physical pain is not generally considered a creative motivator and takes our focus away from what we’d like to be doing. Taking care of ourselves makes sure we’re able to act on those creative urges when the muse calls.