In our local organic supermarket, we can get most fruit and veggies in bulk and I do my best not to take any single-use bags (whether plastic or paper). Though this works fine with zucchini or leek, I often find myself struggling to get certain products to the scales. I do my best to carry potatoes, apples, onions, not to mention Brussels sprouts in my cupped hands, usually using the old envelope on the back of which my shopping list is scribbled, to increase my hauling surface. This often results in said products slipping away and needing to be chased down supermarket aisles and recovered inelegantly from under displays.
These days what with keeping 1,5 meter distance and wanting to spend as little time as possible at the supermarket, I decided to finally tackle a project I’d been thinking of for far to long. I got out some colourful fabric I’ve had lying around for years, and decided to a try making a very simple bag for bulk.
I let go of my perfectionist thoughts (I can only do it if I have a sewing machine, I need to make at least 8 bags of different sizes, they need to be perfectly symmetrical and so on…) and got into beginner’s mindset. After watching a couple of tutorials on Youtube, I decided on a very basic design and gave it a try. For my first attempt, I decided to keep it simple and just attach a little rope to the side to tie things up. For the next one, I plan to make a drawstring from some recycled ribbon…
Pretty quickly, I found myself in that place of flow: just me, my needle and thread, mindfully stitching away and the joy of working with fabric I really like. When looking closely, the stitches are not all the same size and there are bits of thread popping out here and there, but overall I’m happy with it. I wish I could have told my teenage self that one day I’d be in confinement and find myself grateful for the sewing skills I picked up when learning how to do patchwork;)
BEHIND THE SCENES #1
For a while I’ve been toying with the idea of writing more about what goes on behind the scenes on Cultivating Joy and personal take-aways I’ve picked up along the way about writing, photography and creativity in general. I already scribbled on a piece of paper a list of topics I want to reflect on and share that I’ve been carrying around in my journal since January, but perfectionism came along and I found myself setting unrealistic expectations. I felt like if I wanted to make a new series, I should have a clearer idea of which direction I want to take it and have drafts about several topics ready to give it a cohesive feel. I put the stakes so high, that I just ended up procrastinating.
So this week I decided to try another approach. Applying the agile techniques I’ve learnt at the office, I decided to break this ‘big’ task into small achievable steps. In my weekly accountability email (which helps me to plan and complete my goals), I changed my objective from ‘start new series’ (which is vague and led to me putting pressure on myself) to ‘write one post‘. Just one post! And so here I am, sharing this post:) I’m really looking forward to working on the next ideas and really hope you will enjoy this new series!
Recently, I was getting a massage and the masseuse was having some trouble getting me to relax my shoulder muscles. She tried placing a warm pouch on them for a while, then she tried using balm to heat them up, but nothing seemed to help. At one point, she told me very simply “Your shoulder muscles are in deep anticipation of what I might do to them, try and let them relax”.
I’d like to be able to report that from that moment onwards I was able to breathe deep and release all the tension, so that the massage could continue satisfyingly, but what really happened is that even when actively trying to relax, my muscles remained tense and only by working her magic could the masseuse slowly reduce the tension a little, by the end of the one hour appointment.
Since then, I’ve had the sentence “deep anticipation” resounding in my head. It was like finally putting words on what has basically become my default way of living life. I am pretty much in “deep anticipation” about everything, good or bad: catching a flight, an upcoming work meeting (even the most trivial ones), going to the theatre, meeting with friends… I wish I was more carefree, but somehow I find myself reflecting beforehand on what it may be like, making sure I have timings right, playing it out in my mind, wondering if I will have enough energy, fearing unexpected hurdles… Perfectionism and control making me feel I need to do things according to high (unrealistic?) standards, instead of just relaxing and trusting I can handle things as they come. I still enjoy things, but I’d like to feel a bit less anxious and it would do me good to keep my “deep anticipation” for the few moments when it can really be of service.
So now when I find my mind going into what I know refer to as “deep-anticipation mode”, I’m trying to breathe and remind myself that “IT WILL WORK” (my words for 2019) and that even if it doesn’t go as planned, no amount of anticipation will ease what will happen. It’s a daily practise, a kind of awareness building leading to kindness to myself, permission not to be “on” all the time trying to be in control of everything. Let’s see how it goes.
Things are not always what they seem at first glance. The leaves on this photo for instance are not autumn foliage, they are actually tiny spring leaves bright and vulnerable.
Lately I’ve been trying to be mindful when I catch myself making assumptions, in particular when thinking this or that person clearly knows exactly what they are doing without seeming to question things, and then going on to compare myself and wonder about my constant doubts.
Some deep conversations recently have reminded me that we are all just human and that we are all simply trying to do the best we can at any given moment, including the people who often seem to have their life perfectly sorted out. With this in mind, I want to show up and try to be more myself, quirks and all. I want to stop hustling so hard for the elusive goal of perfection, a bewitching mirage, shimmering close by but never reachable as it does not exist. I want to use that energy instead to be more open about how I feel, even when my truth is awkward and tough, and hold space to hear others’ tough and awkward stories.