Staycation

Well, it finally happened…the government shut down, and since I work for the government, I am now not working. It’s an unplanned, unpaid staycation. I’ve always dreamed of a staycation – though not one that was unpaid – but never had the leave time to take it without giving up something else. So there has been a positive aspect to it. What? Well, I have enjoyed some time off, with lots of reading and relaxing. And, well, finally getting the chance to confirm what I’ve always suspected: I wouldn’t be able to enjoy unending leisure time for much more than a week. I’m starting to get busy.

We’re starting the second week of this shut down, and I am finally establishing a bit more of a routine and working out how to achieve my goals, which is to use this time properly. So I have been getting busy. I’ve been slow to do this, I think, for two reasons: one, I did want some rest; and two, not having any sense of how long this thing is going to last makes it hard to plan my activities. To a certain extent, I have to plan day to day, while still balancing my enjoyment of time alone with the need for some social interaction. I may be an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I don’t also enjoy people.

Last week, I mostly rested and relaxed, with intervals of doing chores like cleaning and cooking. This week I have planned a bit more. I have a list of things I would like to get done. I want to:

  • do a good bit of scrapbooking
  • make a baby quilt for a baby shower at the end of October (piecing all done, quilt sandwiched and ready to go)
  • maybe work on purple leftovers quilt? or quilt on the big quilt that is ready to be quilted?
  • work on the couture dress
  • set up my loom for weaving with the warp that is currently wound
  • catch up on my spinning study
  • as well as spin some on the brown Romney
  • install the SSD in my old laptop, and get Linux Ubuntu installed
  • kill weeds, then pull weeds
  • scan a lot of old paperwork so I can get rid of it and/or organize it
  • get rid of some furniture and other items at the thrift store or via Craislist and/or Freecycle

And of course, enjoy myself with reading a lot. And maintaining my regular schedule of eating right, exercising regularly, Bible study, and reaching out to some friends for visits, especially some that I haven’t seen in a while.

I have a feeling I won’t get it all done, but I’ll give it my best try.

Just do it

I have a dear, younger relative who seems to be suffering from a fear of failure. He is old enough that he needs to be making some decisions on his own, but seems to be hesitant. He doesn’t even want to move out of the house of his parents — and they are actually pretty ready for him to go. When I talk to his mom, or my mom, I keep hearing, he just needs to do it, or something similar, but no one seems to be working with him to figure out how. Well, I do think his parents are working with him to the extent that he is in counseling. But does that counseling actually get practical about how to face a fear of failure?

I actually do have an idea to offer. One of the things that paralyzes so many is that they are overwhelmed by the hugeness of their goals. If you can’t see past this big thing in your way, how can you know what to do next? So my solution comes directly from the whole idea of project planning and GTD. Don’t think about the ultimate goal as one big thing. Instead, sit down and break it down into many small steps. And then do just that One Next Action. Small successes can build into big successes, but you have to know what the next step is.

Once you know what your next action is, then just do it is an answer. But until then, it is useless advice.

Lest I forget

One thing I keep hearing from many different podcasters, especially the quilters, is this impulse to do different projects immediately. This impulse I understand, yet they seem to have no idea how to handle this. Because the one thing you shouldn’t do is immediately start buying and doing them all. That way lies madness and a very expensive life.

I handle it via lists. Or perhaps a better way to express it is via an idea book. I am baffled as to why none of them seem to think of this concept.

Of course, I like lists.

This is related to the art journals that many artists use; a place to record ideas, experiments, whatever, whether written or played with in some form of their medium. Myself, I actually do two things. I have a “design” journal where I draw, describe, or otherwise record design ideas of various things I’d like to create eventually. I don’t necessarily want to create them now, just eventually. What I’m recording is various possibilities of what they will one day become. I also have a straight list of projects that I want to do , some of them patterns by others (a specific quilt pattern by Jinny Beyer), some more vague (e.g., Aran sweater). The important thing to note is that I don’t have to do them or start them right now. All I have to do is write them down on a list so that I can get to them later when I’m ready. That way I’m not distracted from my current projects so much, the idea is not lost but recorded for when I’m ready to take on something new, and I’m not attempting to commit my money and mental energy to something I’m not ready for.

Putting a project down on that list is not an ironclad commitment. In fact, that is one of its advantages. Sometimes a project may appeal for the moment, but later when I’m ready to start a new project, I find I don’t really want to do it anymore. Putting it on the list gave me the time to let that first rush of enthusiasm pass and a truer evaluation settle into place. If my desire to make it didn’t even last that long (however long it was), then would it really last the entire time necessary to make it?

So that is a solution I offer to those crafters who tend to say, “so many projects, so little time.” Because yes, there are plenty of projects that I want to do, but we all have only so much time and energy, and I only want to spend that time and energy on something I really want to do.

priorities of crafting

I have too many items in progress: it is making it hard to choose what to focus on next.

  • Finishing up the weaving in of ends for Lochinvar
  • blackwork piece
  • winding the warp for the next mini-project
  • bamboo socks for summer
  • knitting for the felted fabric
  • sewing stuff
  • quilting stuff
  • prepping for the next embroidery project (mixture of crossstitch and blackwork)
  • moving the current socks into the bag

And that’s just the fiber crafting stuff. Other things needs to get done as well:

  • make at least three separate phone calls
  • grind grain (a secondary thing)
  • cook for this week’s meals
  • ginger beer recipe: find and make?
  • use whey
  • vacuum
  • paint BA1 ceiling
  • wash some clothes
  • gardening stuff
  • taxes

Then comes the work stuff. At least I know when that is the focus, but it still needs prioritizing! I definitely need to do a weekly review, but that needs time too.

brainwave

I just had some ideas!

I was actually taking a class on how to use Microsoft Outlook for work, and I had a sudden idea on how to use it for personal life. (This just goes to show that we have no separate lives, just one life with different aspects.) One thing I’ve never been quite sure how to handle is the repeating tasks of the household. I did not want to clutter up my regular task list with that kind of thing, but I didn’t see any other appropriate place to put it. But the class was talking about using multiple calendars in Outlook, and I suddenly saw that I could use a secondary calendar in Outlook to schedule those items as recurring events, using the note field to record actual times done and not done — I’m under no illusion that I will always do them on schedule — and that calendar will neither clutter up my ongoing appointments nor will it overwhelm my task list.

A perfect solution? No, but then there isn’t one.

Other idea? I have been frustrated by the mishmash of items that I use for my desk space and the things (books, papers, etc.) that still end up on the floor. The mishmash is not doing the job, but what would? I suddenly realized that I need a general desk/shelving unit, but not a real, extended desk, just a big shelving unit with a longer midsection where I could put my laptop and monitor. I would need a big one, but not some of the really large monsters that are available out there, since my LR area is not that large and I would not want to overpower my space. And bookshelves wouldn’t work, since they wouldn’t be deep enough to handle some of the paraphernalia. But if I could get this right, I would have lots of shelving space for the computer and its paraphernalia, all the things currently on my end table, and some other things that currently live on the floor. I might even be able to get rid of the end table — or at least replace it with a smaller one. This would open up my space nicely, I think, and provide the appropriate storage.

The problem? Well, money and actually finding the thing. I’ve been doing a little online looking, and I’m not finding what I want. And a cheap version from ikea or the container store is NOT going to work; I am endlessly tired of cheap furniture. It makes me feel like I’m still in college, and that boat has floated. Plus I really don’t like the veneer over MDF or its variants; it shows wear and tear a little too quickly. I want real, solid wood that will last.

Sigh.

Patience and persistence will get it done, but I’m sometimes tired of waiting.

Space for creativity

Now, following the previous post on how I schedule my creativity, I also want to reflect a little on how I set aside the space for that same creativity when I’m at home.

Now, let’s start with a basic fact: I don’t have to consider other people’s preferences. This affects a lot of my decisions about how I organize myself. For example, my shoes are in my front closet near to the door, because that’s where I take them off and put them on. If someone else lived here, that might not work so well, but with just me, it works beautifully.

So where do I work? I don’t need to shut myself off into a different room because I’m the only one in the room, and shutting my stuff off from myself and the room I do most of my living in means that I wouldn’t drag it out near so often. Convenience and accessibility play a major factor here for me.

Downside? Well, yes, because that space is also my living room, where I visit with my guests. I want that space to look nice and welcoming yet at the same time have all my crafting supplies ready to hand. To convert it entirely to a workroom is not really what I want. But there are limitations to that choice. Because of the size, I can’t really have it set up with a sewing table and my current projects always spread out; there’s not enough room, plus that would look really messy. But NOT having it out means I’m much less likely to work on it. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve been doing so much knitting at home — it is much easier to take out and put back with minimal effort, whereas the sewing takes a lot more work to unpack for work to progress.

So I’ve gotten things a little more organized over time, but I’m still not satisfied with what I’ve got. I need a nicer cabinet-type piece of furniture that can be closed off or left open (doors that slide into the sides would be good), and can take baskets and other kinds of organizer boxes for all the supplies that would otherwise need to be left out. That will make it easier both to pull out and put up. Currently they are in a small chest of drawers that doesn’t welcome the boxes/basket options, nor is it really big enough.

I’m working on it.

Checklist

I’m a creature of lists, at times. Part of it has to do with the detail-oriented nature of a cataloguer, another part just has to do with my organizational inclinations. (Of course, these are both intertwined, but don’t ask me which came first — the chicken or the egg?)

Today, I’ve had my Christmas list on my mind. My family buys pretty individually, and I’ve actually had pretty good luck this year, not only with getting them good stuff that they want, but also with getting ideas for those who aren’t giving me a list! I just hope those ideas work!

Let me see: Mom, Dad, Sister, BIL, Nephew 2 & 3, Brother, Niece 2 all done. That just leaves Nephew 1, SIL, and Niece 1. I have a definite idea for SIL, and probably gift certificates to Borders or suchlike for Nephew and Niece 1. They are getting more and more difficult to buy for.

The most important thing is getting them all done in plenty of time to feel relaxed for the holiday season. I hate feeling rushed!

Whoops — almost forgot! Closest friend from college; not a required gift, but sometimes I get an inspiration, and I want to get one this year if the price is right.