raindrops on roses...

...and lavender and daylilies and dresses and hats!

My brain was tired this week. You know that feeling when you have a to-do list and time to do it, but you just can't make your mind start firing the way you want it to in order to accomplish things efficiently? Oh, that's just me? Well, whatever the case, I had a tired brain. 

I had several conversations both in person and virtually about All The Important Things.  And then PFFFT--nothing left. Sewing is such a good antidote to that.

Sewing occupies just enough brain space to keep me alert but not too much to let my brain relax a little. I made Sarah Annie a Popover Sundress and a matching bucket hat--perfect little projects to get the sewing mojo going. It's been a cool and rainy week, so pictures aren't the bright sunshiny ones I'd imagined. Still, she was thrilled with the outfit and she's very much looking forward to the return of the sun. You can't see the reverse of the bucket hat, but it's made of the same red pin dot as the yoke and ties on the sundress. 

This might be my favorite swing project ever. It wasn't the most challenging. It's not the most prayer-filled. 

But this one? Well, Sarah Annie was just so very excited about it. She said all the right "handmade" things:  

  • I'm so thankful you took all that time to make it for me!
  • I could never find something so special in a store.
  • You're hand stitching it just for me, just like Lucy's
  • You're going to make me one more dress that matches the hat, right? {Here we pause for a vote. I saw some Daysail locally. It would totally coordinate with the hat. Kristin talked sense into me at the moment, but I'm tempted to return to the store and indulge this child. Should I? I mean really; you can't script those things. Such appreciation! Then again, it's entirely possible she's playing me like a fiddle.}

I'm still readingThe Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: a memoir of friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasure of a good book It sort of reminds me of when I read The Dirty Life: A ramshackle house, a relationship, tenacity, small town. This is a mature couple, though and it's all about the books and not farming. And, well, there are lots of differences. But the similar theme is one that intrigues me: is it really possible for a couple to jump off the well-traveled road, pursue a dream, and have it all turn out well? I don't think that's a question I will answer with experience. My life just isn't on that trajectory. Maybe it's the midlife place I find myself in, but lots of women around me are talking about how they've spent the first 20 years of adulthood. And it's a mixed bag. Some are deeply satisfied. Some express regret. Some are making drastic changes in marital status or hair color or place of residence or all three. At least one wants to jump off the path and start all over. 

That's where All The Important Things come in. Is it possible to craft a life that doesn't lose sight of All The Important Things? What are the important things? What are those things that are the firm foundation of life? The things that keep the sands from shifting drastically at midlife, the things that keep us from building a house on sand at all, or--frankly--the things that cause us to move to higher ground when we recognize it wasn't built well in the first place?

I remember sitting in a bagel shop in West Springfield in August of 1990 with my baby boy. My wig was itchy in the humidity and heat. A girl a couple years younger walked past me, her hair in high ponytail with a scrunchie around it. (1990 = scrunchies) I remember thinking, Lord, please let me live long enough to wear a sweatshirt in the autumn and pull my hair into a ponytail with a scrunchie. Since I had no hair at the time, I figure I was bargaining for at least two years.

That summer and well into the fall, I didn't hope for extraordinary things. I didn't beg for time to write the Great American Novel. I didn't ask to have a huge internet platform (that might be because we were a good six years form being online, but still). I didn't want a giant house. I didn't beg for travel opportunities.  I just wanted to live to raise my baby. I wanted evening to find me standing in my kitchen, making dinners for my husband. I wanted to live to harvest the basil and then to live even longer to eat pesto from my freezer. I wanted to plant roses beside an herb garden. When I was feeling particularly audacious, I begged for more children. 

Now, it's 25 years later. I'm wearing a pony tail and sweatshirt in June. It's evening. Mike will be home on a flight later tonight. Dinner will be waiting.  My ninth child has clipped a rose from our yard and put it in a vase beside the chair where I sit writing. Its smell is fresh and lovely and kind of a miracle to me. When I was sewing this afternoon, my second daughter made me a smoothie  with mint from our garden. Later this summer, there will be pesto. The baby who ate bagels with me that morning? He's grown and married and his baby and her mama helped plant those flowers.

It's so easy to get caught up in the clarion call to do something more, be something more, go somewhere else--anywhere else. It's easy to compare and despair. It's easy to panic at midlife and regret or worry--or worry that you will regret. I know how easy it is.

When my friend Elizabeth was alive, I had a daily reminder of how very fragile our grasp on the All The Important Things is. She'd email or text and her prayer requests were simple; sometimes impossible in this life, but simple. Some days, she wanted to be able to muster the energy to sit up on one elbow in bed and turn the pages of a picture book with her little boy. Other days, she wanted to knit a few rows on a sock before sleeping. All The Important Things were crystal clear for her. 

Crystal. Clear.

Hey. look! I just wrote about Elizabeth. I wondered where those words were. Perhaps there will be more.   

What are you reading or sewing or thinking this week?

P.S. One more thing! I nearly forgot? See the book in the picture? I'm not really reading it. It came unexpectedly yesterday. I wrote it!! And then someone translated it into Polish. And now it's published. How cool is that?  Here's the thing: they sent me two. And even though my maiden name had a whole bunch of consonants and very few vowels, I don't speak or read Polish. If you know someone who would appreciate my extra copy of Polish Small Steps, would you please let me know?