Middle-Aged Angst

So what is a person who has, as Bill Clinton put it so eloquently in his speech at the Democratic National Convention, “has more yesterdays than tomorrows”, to do with the rest of their time on this earth?  It’s a question I’ve been wrestling with since my mother passed. My mother was someone who enjoyed life’s simple pleasures, but it isn’t that way with everyone.  What will bring happiness?  What will keep me relevant in a culture that does not appreciate its’ seniors?  I watch people, and the human condition is of great interest to me.  Maybe it’s because of my early theatrical training…I don’t know, but I have been watching the middle-aged and seniors with great interest to evaluate what to do and what not to do.   Here are a few things that I’ve done recently (for better or for worse):

  1.  Got a tattoo!!!!!!!  Yes, I know, this is a very cliché thing to do, but I didn’t do it just to do it.  The standard tattoo isn’t my personal style.

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No, I headed down to True Blue Tattoos in downtown Austin with art work that is classy and not trashy…at least in my mind.  It was a picture that is very symbolic in many ways and is just, well…me.

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I went in armed with my copy of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”.  I love these books because of the silliness and absurdity.  Very much like life to me.  Much like Alice, I find myself trying to make sense of a world that I am existing in for the time being, but find it hard sometimes to understand.

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(I will be adding some of the critters at a latter date!)

The above quote resonates with me as I tried to find a reason to stay a member of the LDS (Mormon) church and also to find a shred of tangible proof that any of the doctrine is true.  Ultimately, I could not.  Joseph Smith was not a chosen prophet of god.  What he was, was a polygamist who also practiced polyandry.  All of the others that came after him are not god’s chosen and inspired.  They are just men.  Nothing more.  Like for Alice, a clear-sighted realization came.IMG_3549IMG_3553 (1)IMG_3559 (2)

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I did have an active LDS church member comment on my tattoo, saying that I was defiling the temple that god had given me.  This came from a person who weighs about 300 pounds and didn’t get that way by eating healthy or exercising, which by the way, I do.  Who is defiling their temple?  The woman who eats crap and doesn’t move the body she was given or me?  I do view my body as a temple and am grateful enough for it to take care of it.  My tattoo is just a pretty piece of artwork that I chose to hang on mine.

2.  Well, the next thing I did was also a cliche…I got a new car!  I know that lots of people get the “mid-life crisis” sports car, but I was content to get a little car that wasn’t a mini-van or SUV!  I’ve come to a point in my life where I don’t have to transport any more than 1 or 2 passengers at a time or need extra seats to seperate fighting kids.

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I’ve always wanted a Subaru (don’t ask me why) and have had a blast driving this little zippy Impreza!

3.  I picked up a new hobby.  I started learning how to sew this past March.  The whole process has been gratifying and infuriating at the same time.  It’s a skill that will take YEARS to become proficient in and I’m afraid I won’t live long enough to get to where I want to be!  I know, I know…it’s about the journey!

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In recent weeks, I’ve seen examples of how I don’t want to age.  We all know the saying that comes with ageing “being stuck in your ways”.  I think as we get older, it is key that we don’t.  I’ve seen that with many seniors, they get stuck in a period of time mentally when they have felt in their prime.  They become stuck in their opinions, the way they dress…I know you get the picture.  Many of us will unwittingly come to a point in our lives where we stop experiencing, stop growing, stop learning and therefore remain stagnant for the rest of our lives.  We shrivel mentally and physically, becoming a burden to loved ones, but I’m certain that it doesn’t have to be that way.  I believe that, genetics aside, how we age is directly affected by the choices we make.  We have the power to feed and move our bodies now, so that we stay strong for our so-called “golden years”, but we also have to embrace the future and not hold on to the past or “the good old days” with dug in heels as many seniors do, in order to continue to grow, to experience new things, and be open to new ideas.

One of my biggest fears is that once my kids have families and lives of their own, that they will dread having Jim and I visit because we are old fuddy duddys who can’t stop talking about the old days and are negative about everything and only talk about how our bodies are falling apart!  I want them to look forward to our visits!  I want to be able to relate to their world… the current world and be optimistic about the future.  I don’t know…maybe the latter is a pipe dream.

What do you think?  Getting older is inevitable, but we can remain youthful in spirit, don’t you think?  How do you plan to “live” and not just “exist”?  What are you doing or planning to do for your golden years to keep your presence on this planet relevant?  Oh, and in case you are wondering…the above will not be my only tattoo (wink, wink)!

Practice Makes Perfect?

A few months ago, I watched a documentary about the “fast fashion” industry called “The True Cost” and also read a book on the same subject called “Cheaply Overdressed”.  What I learned quickly became a “light bulb” moment in my life.  I’ve worked retail for many years, and you know…ignorance is bliss.  Until it isn’t.  In March of this year with the help of a friend, Hilde Westenhaver (domestic goddess), I started my first tentative steps in learning how to sew.  Jim got me a sewing machine for my birthday and I sold a bunch of clothing I wasn’t wearing to use the money to buy supplies for my new endeavor.  Hilde got me started with the making of a pair of shorts (a la Madewell style!) and I have been taking classes at “The Stitch Lab” in downtown Austin.

So far, I have taken a Beginner’s Crash Course and made a tote bag (successful), a “Know Your Knits Class and made a skirt (unsuccessful…I’ve since learned that knits need a serger.  I purchased one.), a “Zipper Class” (semi-successful), a “Garment Series” (semi-successful…I chose a dress pattern and learned that sleeves are hard), and a “Pattern Picks” series where you pick a pattern from about 10 choices.  Here was mine:

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This is the “Washi Dress”, made by Rae sewing pattern.  The fabric is a linen-cotton blend (my favorite in the Texas summers!).  I also used a cotton batiste to line the bodice with.

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Finished product.  Success!!

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I learned a new technique called “shirring”.  It’s funny…I had no idea how this was done.  It just so happens that this is achieved by the use of elastic thread.  Who knew there was such a thing!  Not I!  But here you go…Magic!

I loved how this dress turned out, so I quickly set out to make another while the techniques were still fresh in my mind.

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The second dress has a different neckline and is sleeveless because I hate doing sleeves right now and because sleeveless clothing shows off my favorite fashion accessory right now…my new tattoo (more on that in another post)!

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Now, neither dress is perfect.  I have yet to complete a “perfect” project.  This is sometimes a hard pill for me to swallow because I’m a perfectionist in many ways.  I’m not naturally a patient person.  I want what I want yesterday.  Becoming a parent helped me learn to be more patient, and like parenthood, sewing has taught me to be more patient by humbling me.  I knew when I started that learning how to sew was not going to be easy for me.  I don’t possess the mechanical brain to construct or make things.  I know how to style clothing.  I know what to look for to spot couture clothing.  But before this spring, I had no idea what went into making an item of clothing.

Throughout my life, I’ve tended to not participate or try things that I knew I wouldn’t be good at.  I tend to stay in my comfort zone and do the things I know I will be successful in. I’m painfully aware of my limits and shortcomings.  That is exactly why I’m determined to continue to learn how to sew.  I naturally get impatient because I think my progress is too slow or I get angry when I don’t pick up a skill right away (hello zippers and sleeves!  I’m talking to you!!!), but that is when I have to shut a part of my brain off and let another part take over.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and I will probably not become a couture skilled sewist in my life time, but I will continue to try.  I don’t have many regrets at this point in my life, but I do regret not learning to sew earlier in my life, especially when I had a grandmother and mother who did sew.  When I was younger, I would watch them sew and complete projects and think there was no way I could ever learn, so I never tried.  Shame on me.   I’m determined to redeem myself.

So, I will remain optimistic.  This is what I bought at Half Price Books today:

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And I signed up for another “Garment Picks” class at “The Stitch Lab”.  I’m picking a more difficult pattern this time:

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The only question is which view to pick!  I’m kind of leaning towards View B because it has front pockets, gathered skirt, AND buttons!  I haven’t done anything with buttons, so here we go…