Some creationings

13 05 2010

Yup!  that’s my new word “creationings”.  An active verb form of creations, turned into a noun again.  Gotta love language!

The last few days, I’ve been creating like crazy.  I have a dear friend out West who just had a baby and who I really wish I could be in closer contact with.  However, I am still learning the fine art of correspondence.  I wanted to make her and her family members some pretty special things, when I finally do contact her, to express, in creative materialism, how much I care for her and her family.

For her littlest baby, I made a receiving blanket.  I put as much love, comfort and safety as I could psychically muster into the sewing of this, with material that I got from the thrift store for $2. 🙂

For her eldest daughter (age 6), I’m making an orange dress out of a long sleeved shirt of mine that one of the arms fell off of (this was a VERY well loved shirt).  This has been the most challenging part, as I: a) don’t actually know her size as I haven’t seen her in almost a year.  b) do not know what she likes to wear these days, for aforementioned reason and c) have never made a children’s dress out of anything, much less an old shirt.

However, this has not stopped me from doing it.  The sleeves are ruffled, the bottom will be ruffled as well.  The little flap on the back is for a secret pocket, that I will make, and put a stone or something magic in it for her.

My first challenge came with trying to figure out correct tension on my sewing machine.  This took me about 1/2 hour of experimenting on random scraps + 1/2 hour of researching thread tension online and then about another 15 minutes to experiment more on the machine.  Luckily, Stella is a very loving sewing machine and once we figured out the problem, got right to work making perfect little stitches.

My second challenge came in trying to figure out arm holes.  What are they like?  How do you cut them so they are comfortable for a six year old?  How thick are six year old arms?  After trying to extrapolate from little A and visualize my friend’s daughter the last time I saw her, I made some cuts and went about my sewing.

My third challenge came in feeling like maybe they wouldn’t like my gifts.  “But what if it: doesn’t fit/doesn’t suit her/she doesn’t like it/it looks crappy on her/she thinks I’m silly for sewing her something/she thinks the quality is not good enough? etc etc etc”.

My answer to all of them is: it’s the thought that counts.  I remember all the strange and wonderful things that my dear sister (of spirit) Saera Little Space has made for little A.  I’m not sure that little A has actually worn any of them.  However, she does love them, we keep them and are very appreciative of the thought put into the gift.  So, I’m hoping that she LOVES it, and if not, she at least is happy that we are thinking of her enough to create her a dress. 🙂

I also made a skirt, for my friend.

At first, it was going to be a skirt for her 6 yr old daughter, but in the end, it ended up being just under my size, so I thought I’d give it to her instead. 🙂  I didn’t use a pattern (haven’t quite got the guts to tackle that yet….) and made it up as I went along.  This was a really fun way to sew, and it was surprising to see how the piece of fabric evolved.  This was also made from a piece of fabric found at a thrift store.  I think it was $2.75. 😉  I love thrift store fabric scores!

Sewing has been keeping me sane.  It keeps me task focused so that I don’t get overwhelmed by my emotional state, which could be described as tumultuous at best.  Little A loves playing with the thread, and has “sewn” many “fanny packs” already. 🙂 This weekend I intend to focus more on money making, but for now, a good dose of creationing has filled my heart with Joy.


infinite reflections in the mess on my floor

20 04 2010

Sometimes, I act really stubborn and let the mess get way out of hand at our home, in hopes that Chris will pick up some slack.  Which never happens.  The only thing that happens is I get to clean an incredibly messy house, instead of a mildly messy house.

The last week was one of these weeks.  Cleaning got done, but just the basics: dishes from previous meal, spills on floors and laundry.  The rest went to the wayside.

This morning I woke up knowing that I must clean the house today.  Not only was it out of control, but my landlord was coming over.  I woke up, looked around and went into total panic.

The reason why I want a clean house is not because I value cleanliness as a virtue.  Far from it.  I feel that we are, generally, far too clean for our own goods, and that our immune systems suffer for it.  I am a great proponent of the “eat dirt” philosophy.  However, messes are something different.

I find that when my mind gets cluttered, distracted, panicked, worried, troubled or any other non-peaceful state, my home starts to get messy.  When my home gets messy, I find my mind gets more cluttered, distracted, panicked, worried etc and on and on, infinitely.

No, I like my home clean because I recognize the infinite reflections in the mess I see.  When I see mess, I recognize it as an outward manifestation of an inward feeling.  When I clean the mess, I feel a state of calm returning to the inner space.

Motherhood has really taught me to find the spiritual lessons in all that I do, especially the so-called “mundane” aspects of Life.  Motherhood has removed some of the opportunities I had as a single person to spiritually develop.  I no longer go on retreats, to all night dance parties every weekend, to tons of festivals or to healing workshops.  I no longer have the opportunity to sit and meditate for hours on end uninterrupted.  Many of the outlets for spiritual development that I engaged in, pre-motherhood, are inaccesible to me, when I am committed to the attachment parenting model.

So, I search for spiritual lessons in the garbage, see God in the face of the floor I have wiped for the tenth time and find bliss in washing dishes.  This, I find, is a much more challenging spiritual path, and has led me to more, stronger and subtler spiritual maturity than any fleeting transpersonal experience has.

(as a side note, I think these fleeting moments are necessary, as they give a good perspective.)

I read a book once called “Buddha Mom” which talked about the mindful practice of mothering.  It had a wonderful parable in it, which I will paraphrase for you here:

A monk goes to the mountains to meditate.  After 20 years, a master comes to his cave to see him.  “Master,” he says, “I have spent 20 years meditating on patience.”  The master nods and proceeds to go through the meditator’s cave, messing everything as he goes, tossing his clothes about, overturning his bowl etc.  The meditator is getting angry.  The master breaks his altar and smashes his holy things.  The meditator breaks out yelling “What are you doing, trashing my home like this?”  To which the master replies “Oh, I thought you had been meditating on patience for 20 years.”


When I read this, I truly understand.  Because the mess happens.  My little A, my spiritual master, she teaches me patience.  She shows me the infinite reflections and allows me to work with them in order to continue my evolution.

Now, near the end of the day, the house is not spotless.  I have given up a “goal” to cleaning.  Just as there is no set “goal” for any meditation period, just to sit and be with the process of stilling the mind, so there is no “goal” in cleaning.  Cleaning the house is just as much of an ongoing process as clearing the mind.  My mind will always have thoughts, just as my house will always have mess.  The intention, though, is always to reduce the mess, clean it and clear it, in both mind and home to allow the infinite reflections to bring more peace, rather than more aggravation.

Packing, foraging and stitching

19 04 2010

Today, I started the Great Packing.  I reserved a van for May 3rd and told the landlady that we would be out by then.  The move, now, has officially begun.

I realized that I know why I was putting off this move, more than others before it.  While I was packing, a huge thing was on my mind: “Is this going to my house, or his house?  Do I need one of these?  Should we make a list of things that we don’t have duplicates of?” and, perhaps the hardest “How the heck am I going to do this whole financial independence thing?”

It’s much more pleasant to just ignore these things, and procrastinate on packing and just go outside and forage.  Which is what I ended up doing.  To my credit, it was a pre-planned adventure.

I gathered with three other women, who were all more knowledgeable about wild plants than I, and with little A, we walked down to a river path with a great nettle patch.

I learned so many plants today!  The first one we encountered, growing in someone’s lawn, was garlic mustard.

Garlic mustard has a nice spicy flavour and can be used in salads and in pesto.  It can also, apparently, be dried and used as an herb in cooking.  I find it quite delicious!  It is also an invasive species and takes over native plant habitat in North America.  We picked and ate a bunch, and little A really loved it. 🙂

Our “guide” also informed us of the process she goes through to honour the plants that are offering their leaves to us.  She recommended we give an offering (tobacco, cornmeal or reiki were her recommendations) to complete the energy exchange.  She also recommended, which I already do, that we ask the plant if it would like to give of itself.  I usually find that leafy food plants are pretty willing to part with their leaves, as that is what they are here to do: be primary producers!

We next came across stinging nettle, which was what I was really interested in learning how to harvest.  Little A and I drink nettle ta almost every morning and I was super excited to find out that we can harvest nettles locally!  YAY!

Stinging nettles are incredibly nutritious: high in vitamins C and K, and high in calcium and iron.  They also act as a cleanser and an alkalinizer in the body.  Nettles are best harvested for food in early spring.  They can also be dried for tea for later in the year.  In food, nettles can be used instead of spinach, as they have a similar taste.  Tonight, we put our nettles in a pasta dish and they were delicious!! Chris even ate them.  Little A liked eating the raw leaves, but you have to be pretty careful to get the stingers out.  I got stung quite a bit, and though it was painful at first, my body easily aclimatized to the stinging.  Apparently, the sting induces an immune system response and boosts the immune system.  Apparently the stings are also good at treating arthritis, though I don’t really know how that works…

We searched for wild leeks, but found none.  We also found motherwort, yellow dock and burdock.

And, I got to strengthen bonds with some of the most amazing women I know around these parts, which was a real blessing.

I feel so happy that little A is able to have these experiences of learning the plants, being with the Earth, sharing with wise women and growing up connected.

Finally, when I came home, I made dinner and worked on my stitching.  I started a new project, which is a mother-tree-birth-goddess.  I’m really excited because this is a piece that I created myself and am designing the stitches for myself!  WOOHOO!  It feels like real creativity.  I think this will either be a wall hanging or a journal cover.  It’s so much easier to stitch on regular fabric.  Velour is really hard to embroider on.  I would definitely not recommend it to anyone for their first project.

I was going to show you a fairly bad photo of the current stitching, but my computer is on the fritz.  So, you will all have to wait for a much better picture later this week. 🙂

Apple Blossoms, meditation cushions and the mothers of mothers

16 04 2010

In that order.

First, the apple blossoms are out!  What a wonderful smell that fills the earth when it is apple blossom season.  Two blocks from our house, on the walk downtown, there is a HUGE apple tree that has birthed a couple babies around it and it is springing with apple blossoms. 

I know that each blossom could yield a fruit, so I sparingly plucked one sprig for the glorious scent.  I couldn’t resist.  It is so sweet, so subtle, yet strong and slightly spicy in the right air.  Currently, it is hanging out on my table with some other deliciously scented freesia flowers.  I also picked one magnolia flower, which wilted promptly.  What a bouquet filling our house.

Now, I am not quite sure, but I think that the apple blossoms are early, as are the magnolias.  I wonder what this 25C weather is doing to the cycles of our ecosystem.  I try not to think of it, and instead, make meditation cushions.

Today, I put together the meditation cushion with the OM symbol and stuffed it.  I also went on an embroidering frenzy and finished little A’s cushion.  I am really happy with the results and with the learning process.  I used several new stitches (to me) like whipped back stitch, split stitch and whipped stem stitch.  I must say that I love whipped stitches, and the nice line and colouration that it gives.  That is what I used in the outlines of the leaves and the flower petals.

Here is little A with her new meditation cushion:

And here is a close up of the meditation cushion embroidery.  I left the pink flower unfilled because I thought it looked really good that way.  What do you think?

Another thing that has been on my mind is my mother.  She has, yet again, requested to be my friend on facebook.  She is not currently aware of this blog either.

I am generally not a secretive person, nor do I like to censor myself.  However, over the last 12 years or so of interacting with my mother, I’ve found it useful for our relationship to just omit certain aspects of my life that I know really upset her.

I really want to respect her wishes, but sometimes they just go against what I know to be best for me, or what my ideals are.  I really would love to have a completely open relationship with her where I can be the whole of myself, but that just ends up with us not being able to be around each other.  I don’t really want that.

I respect my mother, what she has done for me in raising me, that she cares about me and that she is a really wonderful, loving and creative person.  I just don’t want to unnecessarily worry her.

I often wonder why our spirits choose the parents they do.  Why did I choose my mother, if we’re going to have such tenuous relations?  I remember seeing a really powerful channel at the Total Health Show in Toronto, when I was pregnant.  She traveled the astral realms, channeled quite clearly and was consciously and sensorily experiencing many more layers of reality than most.  She said that before August 2006 we were in a place of opposites attracting each other, and that explained why a lot of people were being born to the families they were born into.

I’m not sure that this is exactly the case, because in some ways I am definitely my mother’s daughter.  However, in some ways, we are complete opposites.

I find my relationship with my mother to be one of the most interesting, frustrating, educational and strange relationships in my life.  I find it simultaneously supportive and open and incredibly stifling and judgmental.  I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Anyways, I think that I will keep my mother off my facebook account for now.  I think it will be best for both of us.  She might stumble upon this blog as well, and I’ll just have to deal with that when it comes to pass.  For now, for both of our sanity, we will keep our online lives separate.

Burdock is so gentle

15 04 2010

This morning little A and I went on a nice walk down the river as part of my commitment to getting into more wild places within the City.  I find it rather strange, city living.  It’s not what I was raised in, and definitely not something that I find easy to balance, at this point.

I thoroughly enjoy running into people, meeting new friends, going to nice little cafes and all the wonderful activities that go on in the City.  However, I miss the silence, the darkness and the stillness of the forest.  Even walking today, in a “wild” place, there was the sound of big trucks going up and down the main drag not too far away.

But, I am going to take what I can get, and hopefully be led to more, wilder and quieter places in the City.

This morning, we took what we could get: a nice path along the river about a 10 minute walk from our current house, about 5 minutes from our new house.  There is so much I don’t know about in the forest.  I can’t name all the plants, and certainly not all the trees.

However, we did spy some nettles coming out, and a few really good patches of motherwort (which I am still very grateful for) and a couple little patches of maple sprouts.  🙂

On Monday I will go foraging with women much wiser about these plants than I.  I am so excited to bring little A with me to learn about what we can eat (and not eat) in the forest.  I wish it would rain, and then we could have a mushroom feastival as well. YUM!

While we were in the forest, we passed a bunch of old burdock.  Little A was very interested in the spiky little leftovers from the past winter.  I asked her to not go near them, as they were pokey and might prick her fingers.  She was very intent on figuring this out for herself and walked up to them and pet one.  I asked her if it was pokey and she replied “no mama, burdock is so gentle with me.  Burdock no pokey me.”

Burdock is a wonderful cleanser.  It cleanses the blood and is a diuretic, allowing toxins to be removed through the kidneys.  It acts gently with the body to increase perspiration and allow toxins to be released through the skin, as well.

Most of today was spent in the sun, enjoying the balmy 26C April weather.  I was able to get lots of embroidery done, as little A wanted to spend a lot of time in front of our house (we have no backyard) pushing her new baby-car (aka stroller) and riding her trike.  The piece that I am making for little A’s meditation cushion is actually starting to look like something now that I’ve finished all the green and have started into the flowers.  It’s so wonderful to see it unfolding, as in the beginning it didn’t seem like it was going anywhere.

I started losing the faith in embroidery for a moment, or rather, losing the patience.  Which is hilarious, because I took up embroidery partially as a spiritual practice of patience.  After having a good laugh at myself, which is the best medicine of all, I started back into the piece with a new fervor.

I still have more to add to the leaves, as I want to “whip” some of the stem stitches in the outline to make them stand out a little more.  Here is its current state of being:

It’s almost the end of the week and I’m not near completed what I wanted.  Of course I also have not completed nearly any packing.  Which should be more of a priority than embroidery.  However, packing is not nearly as fun!  I’ll get to that soon enough.  For now, off to hot yoga and then a good night’s sleep. AHHHHHHH!

Embroidery bliss

12 04 2010

Today was an early start, with a meeting at 8:30 am.  Little A took a nap yesterday with her daddy and so was up until 11:30.  She was not that interested in getting up.  However, after a thorough boob-rubbing session, she was persuaded to wake.

The meeting didn’t go well.  Or, at least, it didn’t go the way that I had hoped, and now, I am, again, stuck in a “funny” financial situation.  However, as soon as I got out of my meeting, E called me and we made plans to go to the “crazy store” (aka, the Len’s Mills Store) for fabric, transfer paper, and more embroidery floss.

The Len’s Mills Store is, as you may recall, the place that I got my sewing machine.  I was much more prepared this time for the insanity of it all.  But first, the Bibles for Missions thrift store.

Now, generally, I’m not too into supporting missionary work into African countries.  However, I am also not too into WalMart, who now own Value Village.  After Walmart bought them out, the prices became pretty rich for second hand items.  Bibles for Missions is the best selection in Guelph, as well as the best prices.  And, it just happens to be next to the Len’s Mills store.  So, now some poor Africans will have more bibles thanks to me.  It is my hope that they will find some universal truths somewhere in there. 🙂

Bibles for Missions revealed some fabric for sewing underwear and other fun projects (my list of projects is expanding faster than I can make them…) as well as a few bags of embroidery floss for $1 each or less!  SCORE!

There are so many things I love about embroidery, one of which is the affordability factor.  It is really a cheap hobby!

We then went to the Len’s Mills store and got more embroidery floss!  Bliss.  I have at least four projects planned after my current one, which I’m hoping will be done by the end of the week.  I bought floss for these projects which include: a hummingbird for my mother for Mother’s Day, a yoni design on underwear, a goddess/tree drawing that I did before I got pregnant and an earth on underwear too.

Yesterday, I went to a goddess gathering/clothing exchange at a friend’s house.  I got some amazing new clothes and met a wonderful goddess who also stitches.  She was telling me about her inspiration to embroider underwear, which, of course, inspired me along the same lines.  I also am going to start making my own underwear because I really don’t want to give my money to Fruit of the Loom or some other similar company.


E and I then had lunch together with our little ones, and headed to the park for an afternoon of stitching in the park.  It was great to stitch with E because we had been doing so separately, and this was our first opportunity to stitch together.  She’s making a beautiful heart design for her mother for Mother’s Day.

Another thing I love about embroidery is the ability to pick it up and put it down so easily.  You can literally so three or four stitches and then do something else, like push your toddler on a swing.  And while I’m rhyming off more things I love about embroidery, I love the portability of it.  It’s so easy to just bring a little bag to the park and stitch while little A is playing.

It is so nice for me to have an outlet and opportunity for creativity.  I find that writing, which I love to do, is hard to get into with fairly regular interruption.  Painting or other arts are generally also hard to get into with regular interruptions and require a certain type of space to get into (one that you can get covered in paint, specifically).  Cooking is fun, but also gets to be somewhat monotonous, as I have to do it everyday.  Embroidery is something that I can do anywhere, for short periods if necessary, and that I can express myself creatively through.

I have started a piece for little A from the embroidery book, for her meditation cushion.  She picked it out and every time she sees me working on it she says “awwww, that’s for me!” and smiles so dearly.  I love being her mother!

This is where it is at right now:

I started by basting the whole piece because the pile of the fabric is fairly thick, so other transfer methods were not the useful.  It is a little bit challenging because it’s sometimes to see the pattern, but it seems to be going quite well.  I have done all the green outlining and am now on the green filling part.

As a bit of an aside, while I was writing this post little A made a little “home” for Homie, our little dog.  The home is constructed of all the fabrics I picked up today, as well as a bunch of lego towers.  This is a picture of little A, Homie and his “home”.

A neck, a bag, a pillow

9 04 2010

Last night I fell asleep quite deeply, as little A had woken up while I was at yoga and fallen back asleep in her daddy’s bed.  When her daddy brought her to me in the middle of the night, I was quite disoriented.  At some point, she was cuddled up to me, pinning my arm to the bed.  I rolled over quite forcefully and pulled something in my neck.  OUCH!

Today was my day “baby-free”.  On these days, I usually go to yoga in the morning, eat a nice lunch and journal in cafes until I’m ready to journey home.

Today, however, I lay in bed contemplating the necessary actions to get out of bed, without being in distracting pain.  I lay in bed until 11 am, passing in and out of dream time.  So, it seems my body needed the rest and took it.  Bodies are so wise.

I got up and was unable to move my neck to the right, at all.  I’m happy to report that now, with much icing, some massage and stretching, I can move it slightly to the right! Progress!

So, I decided to do things that wouldn’t involve moving my neck to the right very much.  One of the things I decided to do was sew a yoga mat bag as, my sewing machine is more geared towards the left hand side of my head and, I really need a yoga mat bag.

I picked up a piece of fabric from the Bibles for Missions thrift store a while back for $1.50 and didn’t know what I would make with it.  It’s black with spirally white seashells and starfish.  It turns out it was the perfect size to make a yoga bag out of.

I decided to go with a drawstring bag as I didn’t have a zipper and wanted the bag to be easy to sew.  So, I found this pattern and decided to go with it.

It turns out that yoga bags are incredibly easy to sew!! However, before I could get to the easy part of sewing, I had to go through a half hour of frustration with my bobbin thread continuously getting tangled.  I tried just about everything: rethreading the bobbin, rethreading the needle, changing the thread for a thinner thread, talking nicely to the machine (“please Stella, what is it that you need?  Let’s work together baby.”) etc etc.

In the end, the machine was getting stuck on a pin head. (insert one of those forehead slapping emoticons here) Luckily, that’s pretty easy to fix.  So, once the silly frustration was over, I sewed the entire bag in about an hour.  I didn’t photo-document the process this time, because, well, I just didn’t remember to until it was mostly finished.

Here is what it looks like sitting on the only piece of clear floor space in our house (the rest is covered with building sticks that little A has lovingly stewn about the house “Me love me stick mess mama.”).

Not surprisingly, the yoga bag is now filled with much of the stick mess.  The yoga mat is lying on Chris’ office floor, unrolled and enjoying itself there.

After the bag, I iced my neck more, walked the dog (in the snow!), and decided to finish off my embroidery.  Have I mentioned that I LOVE embroidery?  Well, I do. Everyday (though it’s only been three days) I love it more.  I can take it anywhere with me.  I can do it when I have a few minutes to sit down and relax while little A is off doing something by herself.  It’s a great replacement for zoning out on Facebook or YouTube, which are both activities I engage in when I have ten minutes to sit down, but don’t want to do anything that requires me to “think” too much.

Embroidery requires concentration, but in the most delightful way.  I use it as a mindfulness practice, as well as a meditation.  I can easily view my thoughts and how they reflect in my work.  It is a physical manifestation of the steadiness of my mind.

Here is the picture of the finished design, my first embroidery project!!

I was really tempted to completely undo the first day’s work and try to redo it so that it looked nicer.  However, after reading that this would probably destroy the piece, I decided to keep it as a memento of where I started.