This past fall was supposed to be my term of “rest and relaxation”. Yes. I am being slightly tongue-in-cheek when I say that, but hear me out. With some of my more time-consuming volunteer roles coming to their natural conclusion and the kids back in school full time, I envisioned large stretches of time in which I was going to live my best life. Rather than settling into the rhythm of this new time in my life, I spun around like a toy top for most of September, October, and even November. To be honest, I’m not sure what I accomplished in those fall months other than devise elaborate plans for how I was going to accomplish all the projects I wanted to tackle and then proceed not to follow a single one of those plans.
As American Thanksgiving rolled around, and with it the start of the holiday season, something in me shifted and I moved into high gear, working to finish 2 projects that have been cluttering my mind and my office for years. The first involved actually assembling memory books for each of the kids. Since 2008 and the birth of my son, I have been collecting ephemera in the from of school and team photos, certificates of achievement, and various programs for concerts and plays and performances. I had always intended to put all of these bits and bobs into proper “scrapbooks” along with photos taken at each of the events, but had just never gotten around to it. And the longer I waited to start the project, the bigger the pile of ephemera grew, and the more daunting the project became.
The second of these projects involved making a Christmas quilt for each of the kids beds. Again, this is something that I’ve wanted to do since both kids were in big kid beds – but a surfeit of Christmas quilting cotton left over from the mask-making endeavours of the past few years and this discovery of a super-cute and relatively easy quilt pattern left me with few excuses not to get started.
Of course, taking on both of these projects that were so deeply steeped in memories and nostalgia during the insanity of the holiday season left me yearning for something soothing to read when I wasn’t gluing, cutting or sewing, which lead me back to Hand Wash Cold by Karen Maezen Miller. This in turn lead me to listening to some of her Dharma talks, which then got me to thinking a LOT about living in the moment. As in, I tried to remind myself to live in the moment an focus only on the task at hand when my brain started to swerve off into the endless abyss of “what-ifs” (what if I don’t finish these projects in time for Christmas, what if I just abandon them all together, why do my kids need Christmas quilts anyway … they’re essentially both teenagers and they won’t even like them). To my great surprise, this little act of focusing on exactly what was in front of me helped to silence the what-ifs and renew my concentration on what I was doing.
Which, in a very circuitous way, brings me to today, and the start of the new year. As I have done for the past several years, I have chosen a word for my year ahead. This year, I wanted a word that I could truly use as a mantra whenever the “what-ifs” threatened to take control, that would remind me to ground myself in the current moment, and not in all the moments that could follow. Of course, I also wanted a word that felt special, or had a certain “je ne sais quois” about it . . . and so . . . my word for the year is:
Without getting into the etymology of the word, a twinkle is defined as “the duration of a wink” (a moment), but twinkle also has so many wonderful connotations – when has anything malevolent ever twinkled? – that it just seemed perfectly perfect as a word to guide me and ground me this year.
I’m sure you all are desperate to know, before I close off this post, what happened in the end with those projects I was working so furiously to finish and that required so many reminders to ground myself in the present? Well, I finished them both. The quilts (which I actually made into duvet covers for several practical reasons and also because my kids prefer to sleep with duvets over quits) were finished in the first week of December and put on their beds on the first Friday of the month. They were both THRILLED with them (I had somehow managed to keep this project and what I was doing sewing about a million present quilt blocks with Disney-themed Christmas fabric from the family the entire time I was working on them) and equally sad to see their regular duvet covers return the day before New Years. I am SO glad I made these keepsakes for the kids – I honestly hope that one day they can pass them on to their kids – and selfishly, it made me so happy every day of this December to walk past their rooms and see that I made one of my dreams come true.
As for their memory books, well I finished those too, and gave them to the kids on the morning of the 24th. They loved looking through all of the tangible pieces of their history and thinking back on all the happy memories that were made.
And so, on that note, it’s off to start the new year, grounded in the present and guided by my North Star for the year, the word “twinkle”.
Happy New Year!