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Trying to Remember Everything

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A couple of months ago, I spent some time reading part of the classic, “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. Now, I’m no stranger to organizing and planning and accomplishing things, and reading books about organization is not for the faint of heart. (I haven’t even finished the book yet, because I wanted to chew on some of the concepts, as well as attempt a few modifications, before reading further. Plus, fiction is more fun to read on my lunch hour.)

On of the themes that jumped off the page at me was the notion of having a way to stop “trying to remember” details and instead, have a trusted system where you record the information. 

I have several ways I record information. I use Evernote for “larger project” or events, especially if I’m collating information from different sources. I can easily copy/paste if I’m on a computer, or add things on the fly from my phone. I use Google Keep if it’s a short shopping list or maybe just one item I need to be able to quickly copy/paste somewhere else. 

A few weeks ago, I decided to make a “Daily Process Flow” list of “all the things I should be checking regularly online” whether that’s actually daily or weekly. Sometimes I get so caught up in whatever the shiny task of the moment is or the latest deadline, that I forget all the OTHER regular tasks I wanted to keep up on. Today was the first time I got past the “things I’ve been doing regularly” and started reading the bottom of the list with the “semi-regular” tasks.

It’s amazing how much easier it is to get to the semi-regular tasks, when I stay up on the daily and frequent tasks. It means when I think to write a blog post, it’s easy to fit that into my morning. Or when I want to schedule time to edit a photo album, I get it done.

The other trick is that I log small reminders on my Google calendar, so that a notification will pop-up on my phone. I hate to swipe away a reminder for a task that I want to complete, and I hate to leave a notification on my phone. Notifications really do make me want to mark them as “Done.” I used to casually say in email or messages, “I’ll do that when I get home.” And invariably, I would forget. Now, I log the reminder on my phone with a day and time for the notification or alarm to go off. And maybe 50-75% of the time I can actually accomplish the task at the time. The other 25-50% of the time, I just reschedule the reminder for a better time.

I’m loving feeling ahead for a change. What a relief.

I finally remembered to take photos of a project for someone else to make things for me–and now that project is happening!
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Relaxation Goal Achieved

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Potrero War is an event within the middle ages re-enactment group that I participate in. We go camping at a county park east of San Diego, practically near the international border. Weather in May can be variable — hot, humid, dry, cold, breezy, raining — different every year. This year, we had *marvelous* conditions. It was cool, even slightly cold, for the first couple of days. The last day was clear and warm without being too hot. And the nights were perfect for hanging out around the camp fires.

I had joked that this year, “I don’t plan to go do ANYTHING! I want to make coffee in the morning and tend the camp fire at night. I don’t want to have to walk any further than the bathrooms or the showers.” Now, while that turned out to be the case, I didn’t mean to fall down and get hurt on Sunday night to achieve that goal (more on that in a bit).

Most enjoyable was making my own artistic decisions all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I did not sign up to teach any classes. I did not sign up to take any classes. But I wanted to just “do whatever” when I felt like it. Two of our campers bring an RV every year and they usually set up a shaded pop-up at the end of their vehicle where we hang out to do weaving and other textiles crafts. I took advantage of our home “salon” and worked on a variety of projects.

I took some time to try and improve my fledgling skills at spinning from a distaff, which means tying the unspun wool to a stick and drawing from that source to make thread. I still find it awkward to control the distaff (stick) while trying to spin, so I set that aside after a couple of practice attempts. I had some “comfort spinning” with me when I felt like not thinking too hard anymore.

One friend came by each day to have her own relaxation time in our camp. Saturday she brought a few friends with her, and I held an impromptu “what is spinning?” demo. It wasn’t hands-on, but they seemed to really enjoy watching how spinning works, plus the nature of end-to-end plying (2-ply) as well as ply-on-the-fly three-ply technique on a spindle (the “black magic” of spinning and plying).

But the bulk of my time I spent working on my Andean Backstrap Weaving projects and skills. Last year at Ply Away 2, I measured out a warp “of four pairs” but never wove on it. Having finished my “three pairs” project in April this year, the “four pairs” project was the natural next one to learn to weave with. 

I’ve come up with a seating solution for modern conveniences plus proper weaving technique. The “handle” you see clamped on to this portable table is half of a “Better Loom” from The Loomy Bin. It’s designed to be the end closest to the weaver for a warp-weight card weaving setup. But it’s perfect to be the tie-down far end for my Andean weaving setup. The table is just right to keep my weaving sword beaters from dropping, or nearby when I set them down to change the shed while weaving. 

My view while I’m “tied” to my backstrap: I’m sitting in a folding chair, working on my folding table

I spent Friday speaking out loud, talking to my weaving, trying to ensure I knew what I was doing. I was still relying on the diagrams from my classes with Abby Franquemont (her website, her FB Page), but the intention was to understand what I was doing so that I could put the diagrams away and weave like “an intelligent teenager” raised in the weaving technique. We joked that I was an “audio book” that people just listened to in the background. By the end of the weekend, the most common phrase I would say was, “Is this what I want to weave? Yes, it is, so I will!” (I would check my pattern row by row, before committing the weft threads. This helped reduce the mistakes I had to unweave, and there were PLENTY of unwoven rows all weekend.)

Here are the key weaving designs I figured out over the three days.

this pattern is called “Mayo K’enko” – the start of one “cow eye” and a “meandering path”
my very first “kutij” pattern: the “double-ended hoe” farming implement
learning to reverse my “Kutij” pattern (the “double-ended hoe”) either left-facing or right-facing and in either color
this “Kutij” variation has a “double-column” in the handle of the hoe

By the end of the event, I finished my band and felt quite accomplished.

Sunday night, I was getting ready to head over to the enclosed structure we call the “closed ramada” to perform in the Bardic concerts. We’d sent a majority of the extra chairs from our camp down to the ramada, for the performers “backstage.” My friend was using his pickup truck to ferry equipment and performers so we didn’t all have to walk.

Here’s where the mishap happened.

I’m fairly short. Many trucks are not designed for people with short legs. They are most *definitely* not designed for short legs AND slippery-soled shoes.

As I was trying to climb into the cab, the foot I had on the running board slid out from under me. The leg that was in the air came crashing down on the shin and knee against the running board. Immediately, I returned to camp and sent everyone on ahead without me. My camp mates grabbed ice for my elevated leg. And when we needed a way to secure the ice against my leg, I was amused that I could grab my newly completed woven straps, which were hanging on my belt, and tie the ice to my leg.

This is why you weave “j├íkima” straps: Because you never know when you’ll need them!

My leg is merely bruised and technicolor, and I had a lovely night around the fire with friends as we made certain to ice 20-minutes-on, 20-minutes-off for a while.

The entire weekend was extremely relaxing, and it was nice to come home NOT so exhausted that I couldn’t function.

My Sweetie took many more photos, and I have a reminder on my calendar for tomorrow night to try and edit them into an album that can be shared. More images to come later.


You can see the full album of my Andean Backstrap weaving from Potrero 2018 here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/sYV7LP4UKPcLk8It2

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Grief can be Complicated

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As I wrote when I posted some photos on Facebook:

Two days notice. Stupid cancer diagnosis gave us two days notice, then took Meala Caimbeul — on her birthday. I can just hear her rant in my head against the unjust situation. Shock and loss, that’s all I feel. (full album on Google+)

It’s been a tough 48 hours around my world lately. A friend died Saturday. She was diagnosed with acute leukemia on Thursday, and they first scheduled chemo to start Monday. Then she returned to the hospital Saturday, was put on oxygen, was supposed to start chemo that day, and died by evening.

And now we are learning that for weeks she was talking to her doctor about knee pain and exhaustion. As many would not be surprised to hear, they just said, “Lose weight.” She was an active fencer, practicing 2-4 x a week for easily 10-15 years now. But the tests that uncovered her cancer were not administered until too late.


 

But as much as I want to be angry and tag things #fuckcancer, and I legitimately feel sadness and loss and grief, there’s a heavy layer of complications. She was sometimes a tough friend to love. We had our struggles. We had our distance later. 

No one is universally beloved and adored. All of us make friends, make mistakes, have loss, and make changes in our lives. We fall in with friends, we fall out from friends, we move on. And we can never know who will be gone the next time we turn around.

It is so complicated to process everything about losing her. The suddenness of her death just makes things that much harder. 

I’ll never see the color pink without thinking of her a bit. I’ll never think of the 3 Drunken Celts without remembering her appreciation for, and love of, whisky. She was one of the regulars who used the Google+ group to keep writing new posts, new reviews, new event invitations. She was also in the same professional field as me, technical writing, so even in my business world I think of her on occasion. 

She could be brash and forceful. She could be selfless and caring. She wanted so much to fit in and have a place and have friends who loved her as fiercely as she wanted to love back. She was human. She burnt some bridges. She was unapologetic about what she felt strongly towards. And she was still trying to go full-steam up until the very end. 

So many of us hurt at her loss. And I’m fairly certain she would be shocked at how many people she touched. She really felt so under-appreciated for years.


If you have strong-willed people in your lives, don’t assume they have it all together. 

No matter who it is that you love and appreciate, please try to let them know.

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Astonishing Accomplishments

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I posted this summary in several places yesterday.

Okay, something crazy I have to warn you all about. Apparently, when someone challenges you to do something you thought you couldn’t do, then you successfully DO THE THING you thought you couldn’t do, and then YOU’RE NOT DEAD afterwards, you JUST MIGHT start thinking afterwards about other crazy things you thought you couldn’t do and now you’re gonna DO THEM.

You know. In case you needed a warning. Doing stuff makes you start to believe you can do stuff.

So, go do stuff! ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

I feel it deserves a longer journal post to describe what I’m talking about.


It started with an off-the-cuff conversation with a friend and peer within my dance community. I was helping consult with some web design things and we were comparing notes about our local communities of students, troupes, and fellow dancers. I conveyed that I was impressed with the travel shows that she and her students had been performing at and how I’d love to join them someday. So she said, “Dance with us in Los Angeles in February 2018.” And I thought, “Oh cool!”

Then she sent me the music and the plan for the show: 13 songs, 45+ minutes on stage. 

FORTY-FIVE MINUTES ON STAGE.

Maybe this doesn’t resonate with the uninitiated. Up until now, performances I have participated in have ranged from 6 to 15 minutes long, max. And those are exhausting. We put our whole selves into the show, partially BECAUSE we do an improvisational dance form. We cannot let our minds wander. We have to stay alert and ready and thinking, as well as performing physically.

I’ve also only participated in a specific class-format called “Flow” a few times. It’s set up as 60 minutes of non-stop dancing, in sets of 15 minutes (with short breaks to grab a drink of water). The first time I tried to do flow, I barely lasted the first 15 minutes without dropping my arms. By the last set of 15, I was sitting on the floor, crying, and trying to keep up with some of the arms work. (Granted, my knee was in the worst shape possible at the time and I’d just danced for 2.5+ days of workshops. But still.) A year later, I made it through most of Flow without dying. But my new job has a long walk between parking and my building, and I still don’t like to do the entire walk without stopping at least once to give my knee and back a moment’s rest.

How in the world was I going to keep up with 13 songs and 45 minutes of dancing, no breaks, with a troupe of dancers who practice together all the time? I started with an ambitious plan to practice my stamina building every day for the 70-80 days before the performance when I was first told about this. But like many “grand ideas,” I let other tasks in life take precedence and I really did not train much.

But I do teach 60-minutes at a time. So I kept telling myself that 45-minutes of dancing is still less than 60-minutes of teaching dance, so I would be able to do it. I brought a chair to ensure I wasn’t in pain from standing around for the 1.5-2 hours before the show. And I made certain to take ibuprofen, hydrate sufficiently, and just sweet talk myself into believing I could do it. 

To be honest, I really was frightened I was going to collapse in tears and pain.

And in the last 1-2 weeks or so, my friend the troupe leader sent me the other details: I would be in the chorus for X, Y, Z songs and on the stage center for A, B, C songs. Oh!! There was a plan!! There was a shared burden between all the dancers! No one had to be out in the center for every song! I wasn’t going to have to guess when I needed to be on stage! (And for those who are curious, I was slated to be in songs 1, 4, 5, 6, 12, and 13.)

 

One of my favorite shots. I love the juxtaposition between the calm face, solid feet, and that twirling skirt!

Obviously, I didn’t die. I didn’t collapse. I didn’t drop out when we were on stage. 

Marie believed in me. Her whole troupe believed in me. Then I believed in me, and I accomplished something seemingly impossible.


The story doesn’t end there. I had to teach the very next day, and I was more than a little nervous about how exhausted I might be. And you know what? I wasn’t any more tired or sore than usual. Class was wonderful, my students were awesome, and again, I did it. 

Now I’m thinking about an impossible challenge I’ve been wanting for a while now: I want to host and teach/lead a Flow class regularly for any ATS dancers in my area. The “class” is not an opportunity for instruction. It’s just dancing, just following (the leader), it’s just a time to let your body take over and your mind to take the back seat. I’ve been so intimidated by my inability to keep up in Flow at earlier opportunities that I thought it would be years until I could host/lead such a class. 

But this experience has taught me that I am far more capable than I thought I was. And my students are in for the notion that they would attend Flow and dance for the entire hour. 

So I’m going to make it happen. All because someone thought I could do something that *I* didn’t think I could do. And I did it.

The entire group of Roya Tribal who were able to be at the February 2018 LA Travel Adventure Show (and me)

And one more photo of joy…

I love the looks on our faces

Click to see the Full album of photos on Google Photos

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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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