Categotry Archives: journal

Journal posts for CaySwann

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Rethinking Love for Hobbies

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This post is a little more personal and difficult than I thought it would be. But then again, core values shouldn’t be treated lightly.

Some quick background: There are amazing and beautiful designs in woven goods that are found in archaeological sites. And while we might think we know what a symbol meant to a people over a thousand years ago, symbols morph over time. Our modern history and modern climate only has one interpretation of a swastika or any host of similar bent-armed, four-prong symbols: It only means support for white supremacist and nazi group values. 

And while highly advanced weaving techniques are admirable and worthy of pursuit, weaving any type of swastika shape and using that woven item in current day America will *always* carry the stigma of Nazi history. 

Some people did just that: They commissioned hand-woven and hand-sewn clothing. Someone wove an accurate representation of a grave find from the 6th Century. Someone else hand-sewed some garments and attached the woven trim. And the recipients of the clothing and weaving wore the outfits and were photographed in them.

And then people started asking publicly (on the internet), was this a good idea? Should the ceremonial face of our group be seen in outfits adorned with swastikas? 

There were several types of replies, also posted all over the internet (primarily on Facebook).

  • (a) I’m personally hurt because I identify with a group that was/is discriminated against by those who still carry swastikas.
  • (b) HELL NO, we should never look like we endorse racist and hateful symbols that are currently in use by groups that advocate violence and the eradication of other humans.
  • (c) Wait, why is everyone so upset? This symbol is from *history* and we are an historical club that values learning and research! We didn’t mean anything racist, we just wanted to do *ART* for art’s sake!
  • (d) Hey, stop picking on the artists and calling them nazis. You’re being a nazi for picking on them. 

It went downhill from there.

But what really surprised many of us is that it seemed like a painful ripple locally, and then we were working towards solutions that would make most everyone happy again. (Well, maybe not “happy” but at least satisfied with the response.) Then the impact of our local ripple came back from the far reaches of *every* known “kingdom” throughout our society.

And the ripple that came back? A complete tsunami.

Screaming voices on the internet were DEMANDING the resignation of the two leaders in question, and even calling for their absolute ban from the group. Rumors abounded. Accusations flew. And the regional leaders resigned. 

Then we had a new response group.

  • (e) See what those terrible whiners did to us? They made this happen! Those whiners ruined everything! I hope they’re happy now that everything is ruined!

Um, excuse me? The people who first asked, “Um guys? A swastika? Really?” are the ones who ruined everything? No. Bad behavior ruined things for a while. Rumor and internet comments ruined things for a while. 


You know the rule of thumb that says, “Don’t read the comments on the internet” because that’s where the worst of humanity shows itself? Here’s the fatal flaw when you apply that to Facebook: The entire premise of Facebook is in the Comments. You *could* try to avoid reading the comments, but then you’re not actually reading what’s going on in the discussions.


Now I’ve had some time to reflect on what happened. And I’m trying to find the love I had for my hobby. I love making yarn, spinning, weaving, and natural dyeing. But I was soured against some of my old textiles acquaintances. Some of them did not impress me “in the comments” on the internet. I chose to unfriend several because I was distressed by their conversations and did not want to have to emotionally bear the weight of their behavior anymore.

There were a lot of people for whom I used to enjoy doing event planning and administrative tasks so that everyone would enjoy the events even more. But I was soured against their accusations, defensiveness, and their anger. I watched a lot of arrogance, white privilege, and ignorance play itself out in the arguments. I don’t feel charitable toward whole groups of people, and I feel the loss of that old innocence of mine.

So, if I don’t want to spend time with some specific people anymore, do I even have it in me to spend time with the other people still there? There were FAR MORE people for whom I lost respect than I ever expected. Sure, some of them I wasn’t surprised at all. Some behavior was consistent. But other behavior was a surprise to me.

It is very likely I need to take up my own blame: Sometimes I assume that just because we’re in the same hobby, the same club, that we share some of the same values. And it hurts when that illusion is shattered. 

I don’t know if I can find my way completely back. This entire experience will never leave me. I will never be the same.

Spinning flax (the long fibers on my shoulder) into thread… my drop spindle is just visible down by my ankle
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Ready for 2018: Word #Practice

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My childhood best friend reminded me yesterday that the Word of the Year for 2017 I had selected was GOALS. I couldn’t remember that a week ago, and then my Facebook memories popped up today with the original post from last year. Kristina was right: It was GOALS. Oddly enough, I attended a workshop called, “Goal Setting for Artists” and came away from there thinking that I should focus on TIME and SPACE in order to achieve my dreams and goals. So I’m comfortable combining them all in my records for 2017.

Revisiting, these have been my theme words.

  • 2017: GOALS: achieved by finding both TIME and SPACE
  • 2016: HABITS
  • 2015: MASTERY (and COLOR) + “Finish the Unfinished Objects”
  • 2014: CREATE
  • 2013: FOCUS
  • 2012: DANCE

Today, I’ve found my theme word for 2018: PRACTICE.

Thoughts about PRACTICE

There are so many ways to interpret this. When skill-building, one needs to practice the newly acquired skills. You could ask yourself, “What are the habits I’m in the practice of repeating?” Am I practicing compassion? Do I practice patience? Have I practiced forgiveness toward myself or others? Could I practice better habits? Should I change the practice of being hard on myself? Do I practice financial responsibility? Have I practiced good community building skills? 

When I think about the various themes I’ve sought to embrace–Dance, Focus, Create, Mastery, Habits, Goals–it’s easy to see how I would then expand this into making regular practice of my pursuits. I want to practice my dance skills. I want to put focus into practice more frequently. I love practicing my various creative pursuits. Practice is the primary method for aiming for mastery. Practice must become part of my regular habits. And I can best narrow down *what* to practice if I have established my goals.

Setting my various priorities in place before me, it’s time to then practice what I preach.

#PRACTICE #2018

 

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Word of the Year

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For several years, I spent the end of December coming up with a “Word of the Year” or a theme that could be used in place of resolutions in the New Year. I managed to find my notes in Dec 2015 for 2016 (it was the word “Habits”), but I wasn’t having any luck finding what I had selected for 2017.

Facebook doesn’t have an easy way to scroll backwards or search. And I hadn’t posted a blog about the issue. So I tried scrolling backwards on Twitter (love that Page Down button), and it stopped in January. And that’s when I realized why I probably hadn’t come up with a Word of the Year.

Because it took me a full month to get over my initial dismay of the election results. I wasn’t functioning emotionally for a month. And then we were well into December which meant supporting my Partner in the efforts of the season (as Santa) took all my brain power. Then in January I was quickly whisked off to dancing at ATS Reunion, and never noticed the lack of a word for the year.

Now I know why 2017 has been a little more scattered than some years. I did attend a workshop called “Goal Setting for Artists” in early January, where I probably set the closest thing to a word of the year as any. In my “dream big” assignment, I was able to boil down that the things needed to pursue my big dreams was “Time” and “Space.” Any of the efforts that interested me need me to prioritize how I use my time and to clear the clutter and make space for them.

I also had spent some considerable efforts in Daily Movement Prompts for most of the year, which I miss spending time on. It’s an effort that I would like to return to.

So, in retrospect, here are the theme words I’ve had over the years.

  • 2017: TIME and SPACE
  • 2016: HABITS
  • 2015: MASTERY (and COLOR) + “Finish the Unfinished Objects”
  • 2014: CREATE
  • 2013: FOCUS
  • 2012: DANCE

I’ll be thinking about what my plans are for 2018, so it’s nice to finally have some understanding of 2017.

And when you’re tired and not sure you can continue, you can do what I did in this photo here. Sit down and strike a pose. 

Strike a Pose. You’re Beautiful.
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Returning from Retreats

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Returning from Retreats

Vacations are strange things. I spent extraordinary energy to get ready for two weeks away from work, specifically so I could forget about my regular schedule of events. I had to set up calendars to remind my students there would be no classes. I kept two long lists for stray thoughts about what to pack for two completely different events. And then in the midst of each event, I found myself emersed in the experiences this time without regard for lots of photos and/or social media posts. These two weeks have definitely been about disconnecting from regular habits.

Great Western War (GWW XX)

…or How I spent five days in an environment centered around the middle ages, multi-tasking for a Modern Spinning event, and commuting to a camp ground from a hotel

GWW is one of “those middle ages camping things” that I have been doing for years. In the 20 years of this event, I have only missed #2 (1998, or “Great Wet War”) and came for only one day of #19 (2016). I first went on staff in 2009 and this year was the first year I wasn’t involved in *anything* on staff.

Originally, my thought was, “Hey Sweetie, let’s pack light, bring almost no gear, and just hotel this war.” Sweetie’s agreed, and then the odd planning began. 

For two people who are used to bringing tents and cooking equipment and coordinating meal plans, packing for staying in a hotel was an entirely new experience. Sure, it meant less gear to haul and an easier packing job for the car, but during the event we figured out there were some new problems. Parking was a long walk away and so at night someone had to do that walk. With my knees still giving me trouble, obviously Sweetie walked that long distance just to come get me with the car. Shopping was entirely different, since we really only needed lunches and snacks in a cooler on site.

He also ran into some confusion remembering which items to leave in a hotel or which items to take on site. “Where’s the sunscreen? Oh drat, I left it on site.” “Did I pack my phone charger and leave it in a tent? Do you have an extra charger I can borrow tonight?” But I will praise the convenience of having a bathroom right there in a hotel room.

GWW also coincides with a modern event called Spinzilla. Modern spinners compete against each other and against themselves to spin as much yarn as possible over a week. The money raised by the team’s goes to support kids education programs about textiles. Our team has decided that we try to teach as many people to spend as possible during the week. So this year I spent 22 hours in the Spinzilla booth spinning and teaching people to spin. 

Day One: Spinners and a Musician

Sacred Circles 2017

Returning from GWW meant, “do all the laundry!” and then, “pack completely different laundry for all the dancing!” I scheduled a photo shoot for the first evening of the event with my favorite photographer, but I did not make any plans for performing. My knee has still been giving me trouble, so I took it easy and honored those moments when I needed to learn by watching and listening carefully from a side-line. 

I also had the good fortune of rooming with several different friends from different parts of my dance life. A previous troupe mate came to pick me up from the airport, and she brought me sheets, blankets, a pillow, and a bath towel so I wouldn’t have to fly with them. (Yay!) My hotel roomie twice from Tribal Fest joined us, as did my photographer friend. The four of us were an excellent match, and great fun was had by all.

The course work at the event was also amazing. I seriously had to pace myself in order to do all the classes (or nearly all of them). I chose not to dance at the hafla nor in any of the shows, and this really paid off. It meant I was able to last that much longer dancing in the classes. When my knee couldn’t keep up, I sat on the edge of the short stage, and “danced” all the upper arms work for the instruction. 

And I had the good fortune to be able to be a merchant in the vending room, selling both wooden zills and handspun yarns. I was surprised how many people are interested in my yarn, but sometimes makers never fully understand how much their creations are loved. This is always encouraging to an artist.

Late night selfie after a photo shoot on the woods and along the shore of Lake Huron, at Sacred Circles 2017
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Reflections on a Birthday

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This is what 49 looks like in my world–tiara and bright hair!

Thinking About Thinking

Social Media usage and the political climate over the past two years has seriously affected whether or not I posted my thoughts through blog posts. For a while there, my blogs were scattered in different locations, and then I started pulling them all together (here). But most of my social circles are on Facebook, and I just haven’t been as journal-consistent lately as in days past. 

As I’ve been reflecting on what I think about my birthday today and what I might plan for the next 365 days, my thoughts were unfolding with the need to bring back the simple blog post approach. Also, part of my reflections are (a) what are my current habits? and (b) what habits would I like to be building? What legacy will I take from my forties?

Reflecting on Where I’ve Been

Today I’ve turned 49. This starts the last year of this decade. And it’s been a wonderful decade.

Seven years ago, my Sweetie and I entered into a relationship that has surprised us both. A month after our friendship had evolved into a “relationship,” I also found American Tribal Style (ATS®) Bellydance. It’s Sweetie’s fault (hee hee), a fact that has never quite been lived down.

I moved from the Long Beach area after seven awesome years with my Best Roomie EVAR™ to several years alongside my bellydance community in a small rented room (piled high with crafty gear) to several years with my Sweetie (and most of the crafty gear now in storage, or piled high in one of two locations at the house). Gone are the large tea parties in our spacious living room, and ushered in are the dufflebags and totebags for living on the road and from small spaces. 

After 12 years of contract jobs, one right after another, I’ve spent three years now at one job downtown. It has helped me become debt-free, allow me to “buy a real car” for the first time, and allowed my Sweetie to flourish in a freelance mode with my administrative assistance. And I now help run or market several websites for several events or small business efforts. 

My dance path has moved from beginner to advanced student (taking up to 15-20 hours of class or rehearsal per week) to beginning instructor to now I’m teaching three times per week. Next year I should be able to launch my first two-hour block of classes since I finally have enough students to offer something in the intermediate level. There have been some really rough spots trying to teach, and I still don’t always have enough students every week. But my heart is still in it and my current students still fill my week with so much joy.

My SCA involvement relaxed massively over the past seven years, and I’m still trying to find my favorite balance for that love. Santa season and Storytelling events and Instructor opportunities on my Sweetie’s schedule fill in between my full-time job, full-time commute, Dance instruction, and Crafy pursuits.

Health is an odd thing as I go into my 49th year. Two years ago, I started having issues with my knees. I still need to regularly work on my physical therapy exercises, and it’s still never a given whether I can walk easily or might need a cane just to be sure of myself on the pavement outside of my work building. I haven’t hit the joys of “hot flashes” yet (I know, I’m oversharing now), but I can tell that I’m headed into a new world of hormones now, too. (Most notably, I get dizzy when I am lying down which is extraordinarily weird.) 

How the Present Has Been Affecting Me

I took an amazing workshop in January 2017 to specifically plan and dream about Goal Setting for Artists and Dancers. When I boiled down my dreams and goals, I found that my Keys are “Time and Space.” To make my dreams come true, I just need “Time and Space.” I’m still working on creating and reserving that time for my efforts. And I definitely could benefit from carving out the space needed. Nothing comes just by wishing for it. You have to plan and then work for it.

I do love that I took some of my Facebook efforts and motivations for other people and turned it into a project and community. If you’re not already following Daily Movement Prompts, you are invited to check it out. I post on that blog, sometimes with pithy quote images, other times just with conversations and thoughts about intentional movements. They’re not always daily, but I do my best. There’s a Secret Group on Facebook associated with the private community. Contact me if that’s something you might like to participate in. 

My artistic pursuits have expanded beyond the framework of SCA-specific research and efforts, although my love for history and re-creation has not waned. I just also love to spin modern fibers with some very modern (invented!) techniques. I’m also now madly in love with thinking about indigenous techniques from the people in the Andes mountains, especially techniques passed down from before Pre-Columbian western contact. I’m indebted to Abby Franquemont for her Backstrap Weaving intensive class at PlyAway2, and cannot wait to spend additional time in both the modern textiles community and the indigenous weaving techniques.

Where Will I Go Next?

There are publishing plans in the works for our home business for my Sweetie and me. I have dance and activity plans for my body and will need to figure out what that means to be an athlete in my 50s when my next decade arrives. And my big dream is to travel. I want to travel for teaching dance. I want to travel with my Sweetie’s teaching opportunities. And I want to travel (both local and worldwide) to see friends and family, and really enjoy this amazing planet we’re on. There might need to be employment refinements to afford me the opportunities for travel. But I’ll have my eyes open.

And I’m hoping to remember how to share my travel missives again with my friends and family. So you might be able to expect to see more blog posts again. 

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