On finding Quiet


Through my job with Americorps/MathCorps, I have been involved in a course call Designing your Life. It is a course taught at Stanford University using a book and workbook written by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. I have been doing activity logs for the journal we keep. All of my activity logs have been about tutoring at school, and I am supposed to use them to evaluate my flow and engagement through the week. I personally cannot stand answering rather bland questions in short, boring blurbs, so, instead, I feel some writing coming on…

*flow – People in flow report experiencing complete involvement in the activity, a sense of ecstasy or euphoria, great inner clarity, total calmness, or the notion that time is standing still. A really satisfying career involves a lot of flow states–dyl

I do find some flow when I am in the midst of the tutoring sessions, when the students are finally focused, but it is always short-lived because the sessions are only 30-45 minutes long, and it takes way too long to get them settled. Part of that is my fault as I enjoy the kids, and we chat about their days, but then they would rather continue chatting than work. Getting and keeping them focused and on task is exhausting. Most days, I am in bed by 6:30 pm or so, because I have nothing left. This is frustrating and definitely unfulfilling.

I am an introvert by nature. I used to be very shy, painfully so, unless I was in my element. After I got sick, that shyness was gone! In fact, for a couple of years as I coped with the brain damage, I had no social filters at all which at times was quite hilarious for my family. I am now comfortable talking to anyone, but I am still an introvert. I still need major re-charge time. I work full-time for MathCorps, and I have come to the conclusion that it is too much. I am overdone by Friday, and I often feel resentful that I have done nothing for myself. I have felt that resentment many, many times in my life, but until now, at this point in my life, I have never identified it as I do now…energy sucking work/ activities/ events/ social obligations make me feel hopeless and then angry.

I happily admit that I have been very inspired by this job. Seeing how important an adult can be to these young students has been eye-opening and rewarding. I care about them in ways I didn’t expect at all. I have learned so much. Feeling needed and necessary has been a shot in the arm, but I am starting to feel that energy waning. I know I serve a purpose that is very necessary, not just as a tutor but also as a positive adult in the lives of these students, but there is not enough here for me. Yes, I am at heart a teacher, but I thrive in the creative realms of art, theatre, dance, writing…not in the academic realm of math. I have always loved math, and when I am teaching the kids, I am enjoying myself, but it does not feed me. Knowing I serve a purpose for my students is of course gratifying, but it does not challenge my artistic, creative mind. That’s why I get bitchy: when the challenges fade or disappear, I get bored and do not want to do it anymore. There is a part of me that tells me to grow up and deal, because I made a commitment to this contract. I will honor that commitment, but I am not sure that I will do this again next year. I might do this part-time, because it is good for me to interact with these kids, but I am not sure.

I ended up being at home last Thursday and Friday. I was not coping well physically or mentally. I talked to my sister K many times. We discuss things until they have been drained of blood in order to understand why we do what we do. One of our longest running conversations has been about why we do not follow through on our ideas. The writing for this course, especially for the life-view, has opened doors in my brain about that very thing. We both seem to feel that we are somehow silly for wanting to follow our artistic inclinations since we also need to be able to pay the bills. Identifying that simply working to pay the bills is devoid of any satisfaction has helped us both start to change our thinking. Can our creative endeavors sustain us financially as well as creatively?

Turns out that K and I have talked about “flow” and what that means to us ad nauseum, and we both want it back in our lives, so I made a decision to just get busy with an idea we have. It was daunting, and I had to push myself through the process, but I created an end product and felt great about it! And then, because I was in a motivated state of mind, I finished another project, designing and digitizing a logo for a friend’s business. Talk about FLOW!!! I was both excited and exhausted by Sunday night. I want that to continue.

When I started this course, I understood it to be a way to find a new path to follow forward. What I discovered this weekend is that perhaps I already have the skills and knowledge, the experience and perspective, to go forward with one new idea, and go forward with another that was part of my life for 17 years. I slowly stopped producing my designs because my life was a shambles. I thought that my art, my work, could sustain me, but not only did I become bored (death knell!), I also had nothing inside my head and heart to draw from. Perhaps I am ready to try again, but something needs to be different and I do not know what that is or how it should be different. There is always another riddle to solve.


As I re-read the beginning, I realized where part of/all of (?) my resentment comes from when dealing with energy-draining activities: I have always instinctively known we should be able to claim time for ourselves to take care of ourselves, but I/girls/women was/are taught that others must come first. Feeling that I should have that right but being told/led to believe that that makes one selfish has always been a source of guilt, and sooner or later, that just makes you angry…but you are not supposed to be angry about something like that, you self-involved, egotistical wretch!!

At times like this, I wish I could shake the ick off of my whole body the way a dog does with water!

When K and I talked yesterday, I told her that I had been hit with this urge to stop thinking so much, to shut up and just be. Listen patiently. Or don’t listen. Just be quiet! Something else hit me this morning as that urge to be quiet in my head came upon me again…the chatter in my head gets in the way of “hearing” what is actually in there. Or maybe it is the universe speaking. I do not know, but maybe that’s the point. We don’t know and all the chattering in the world will not help us know, so shut up and see what comes out. Or doesn’t. I suddenly see meditation in a different light.

Maybe sometimes we should stop striving and just be. There is relief in that thought. Maybe believing in myself means to trust my own soul to release the thoughts, the ideas, and the epiphanies when I am ready. Another meaning to attach to “chill-the-fuck-out!”

My Life View

Through my job with Americorps/MathCorps, I have been involved in a course call Designing your Life. It is a course taught at Stanford University using a book and workbook written by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

This assignment was to try to zero in on my own view of life. I read all of the Lifeview Tidbits, quotes from other writers, on the worksheet, and most of them spoke to me in some small way. I also had to ponder some clarifying ideas and had to slog through some self-importance, and then I got to good ol’ Kurt. I find his writing to be so engaging as it makes me feel like I am viewing a part of his life, And then he ended this paragraph with:

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different. Kurt Vonnegut

I laughed out loud. Perfect. A small bit can be gleaned from his short paragraph that illustrates that his life is integrated with his work. He works at home, and while he can get his work to his typist in other more direct routes, he chooses the one that takes him out of his house/workspace so that he encounters other people on his travels. I think he calls it “farting around” to de-emphasize the elitist connotations of being a successful author. I have always felt that he cannot help but see the absurdities that make up our lives, especially the absurdity that is our need to make ourselves important.

I would say that my awareness of the absurdities that abound in life in general is an integral part of who I am. My father was that way. Laughter was a regular sound in our house. Dad was extremely intelligent with a highly developed sense of humor. His ability to reduce so much of life to its core ridiculousness kept us all in stitches. Very often his observations were delivered in quite a deadpan manner, something I thought was purposeful when I was young. Now that I and my siblings do the same, I realize Dad’s delivery was deadpan because he was delivering a truly spur-of-the-moment life observation. He didn’t mean to be funny, but the absurdities he pointed out were. It is an ability we kids have inherited. It is nice because it makes others laugh, but it also keeps us sane, I believe. Our motto is that after we cry, we better use our skills to find the laughter, or we might as well give up!

There was/is a downside, though. When there was true adversity in our lives, we were told to suck it up and get over it. We were directed to get to the funny part before our pain was ever acknowledged, let alone dealt with. We were told to be very aware of others, to be cognizant of their needs and wants, but the same awareness was not to be applied to ourselves because that was forbidden self-involvement and selfishness. This has left us all with the feeling that we are not as important as those around us, which of course leads to problems that we (my four siblings and I) as adults are all fighting to resolve. And yes, it is a fight.

When my life and work were truly integrated before I got sick, I felt I was doing good things for the people around me; my students, colleagues, then children and a husband (ex now) always got all of my attention…until they didn’t because I crashed and disappeared for a bit which was then the cause of overwhelming feelings of guilt and failure.

My ultimate disappearing act was 10 days after the birth of my 3rd daughter at the beginning of 2000. An infection put me in a coma for a week, and I woke up unable to see, walk, talk, or use my hands. There was skin, joint, organ and nerve damage, and worst of all, cognitive brain damage. Suffice it to say that it was a serious long-haul that I slogged through with my children in tow while the useless husband dropped me on my ass because he was no longer receiving the accolades from friends and family for “saving me” from what he termed a life-threatening seizure. (He called the ambulance.) My brain re-booted 7 1/2 years later, October 2007. I was very aware of it happening as my aphasia was suddenly not so noticeable, my sense of direction returned in a flash, my memory started working better, and my sense of smell returned by making everything around me smell like I stepped in dog shit, even my cooking! (I tossed a few dinners before I realized what was going on!)

I was on disability at the beginning, but because of all the lasting damage, my university life came to a screeching halt. I was really not that upset about it, which even then seemed strange to me, but I had so much to contend with alongside caring for my 3 young daughters, that what brain power I had was thoroughly occupied. I came to see myself as having a before and after. I was a different person after my illness. There was her, and then there was me. I still feel like that.

I kicked the idiot husband out in 2011, 2 weeks before our 21st wedding anniversary. I have spent the last 10 years recovering from what I now know was an abusive marriage with a malignant narcissist. Enough with that.

The past 2 years have seen me finally get to a point I realize I have been searching for all my life: I am starting to be aware of myself and what I need. Part of this was spurred on by the pandemic (I was so undone by my fear!), and by a falling out with one daughter and having to completely care for my youngest who is severely mentally and emotionally disabled. At the end of 2019, I was a mess. I coped at first by starting to drink too much, but six months later, after an embarrassing incident in which I was injured, I cut that out of my life. I was of course talking to a therapist, but the last 2 years have seen an inordinate amount of navel-gazing, slogging through trauma, trying to figure out who I am, and trying to understand what it means to care for oneself. Yeehaw.

And what I have come to now was realized when I wrote about my work view: my life and work used to be integrated, and I want that again. I do not like this life that consists of going to work to pay the bills, and then going home too drained to do much beyond collapse and go to bed early. I do knit and read constantly which has kept me from that proverbial brink of despair, but there was and still is something missing in my life, and I am now aware that that hurts me. A lot. My creativity runs blazing hot, but I have no time or energy for it. I truly hate that. I want that life and work integration back. I know it will be different now, but I think I need it.

Do I believe in a higher power? No, I do not. I was raised Catholic by Irish American parents whose lives were ruled by the Church and Catholic school educations all the way through college. My journey to atheism happened in my 20’s. Strangely enough, the self-reliance instilled in me by my parents and my sense of what it meant to be Catholic, made that transition an easy one. I see the universe through my own brain, my own lens.

I intellectually believe in myself. Now I want to feel that in my core.

Fuck Empty-Nesting!

I thought as we got older we were supposed to be better prepared for the next curve balls life fires at us? I would not say that I have handled everything over the past 20 years with grace and aplomb, and yes there were definitely moments when I was thrown (hard) by those proverbial loops, but I did not expect to find myself slamming up against as many completely mystifying, unseen walls as have come my way this year, especially over the last month.

Last week, I woke up one morning in full-blown hopelessness. Wtf? I spent the morning messaging my young chicks group (that is what I have decided to call the group that has evolved with 3 of my high school friends since in my mind, we are all still 17 yrs-old and hot as hell), and we talked about feeling useless, lonely, worried for our children and our aging parents…and finally, one of them says, “I think it is the empty nest syndrome.” Oh.

I thought I understood what it meant, that you just had to re-adjust your days, figure out how to just do for yourself and stop worrying about your kids. Lies. All lies.

It is this sense that there is nothing to get up for in the morning. It’s going to bed to read at 5:30 pm, because I don’t know what else to do with myself. Even my knitting is not keeping me up as it feels monotonous and terrifically unfulfilling at the moment. It is having to force myself to feed the dog and cats since they really won’t feed themselves. It is digging through the pile of clothes on the bench at the end of my bed to find something to wear, because I have not done any laundry ’cause no one else needs any…though I will wash underwear with no problem, thank gawd. It is not doing any grocery shopping since I go to Caribou Coffee in the morning to get my tea and a sandwich for lunch, and I just graze on snacks when I get home from school (tho, the snacks are running low now). It is wanting to be entertained by new shows and movies that fail miserably.

It is waking up and very matter-of-factly asking myself why I am here and then having that feeling follow me all day long like PigPen’s dirt cloud.

My Oldest Diva is an artist, and she does drawings for Halloween for #mabsdrawlloween every year, one a day. This one is for 10/4/21. She writes: “Night Circus✨🖤. Being a whole circus is hard work.” My inner drama queen is trying hard to create a circus for myself.

Actually, this drawing is making me feel better…I am imagining myself in this poofy skirt changing my attitude!

Now that I am working again, I find myself looking at/watching the adults around me at the school. Except for a few male teachers and the principal, all the rest of us (teachers, tutors, paras, admins, etc) are women of all ages. As I watch everyone go about their business, I wonder what they are thinking. How do they view themselves? How do they feel about what they do? That woman seems to focus outwardly with a smile on her face. The 3 women who just went by seem to be completely inside their own heads. That one is frazzled. That young one looks frustrated. That one looks shell-shocked. That older one looks bored out of her mind.

I wonder what I present to an outside eye.

Do they all have constant chatter in their heads? What does that chatter say? Is it kind, judgemental, cranky, funny, warm, brutal, loving, cruel? Are they aware of the chatter as chatter, or is the noise a low hum in the background like a power line buzz that is no longer consciously acknowledged?

I read something a few months back that made a case for that noise not being who we are. That noise is not me. That noise comes from a place that is afraid of silence. Silence must be filled, so let’s fill it with a voice that constantly reminds us how inadequate we are. How often we screw up. How often we are wrong. How often we are sub-par. How we are less than, unworthy, stupid, failing, ugly, fat, decrepit…

It struck me that our “inner voice” is so often, if not always, so fucking awful! Why? Why isn’t our first instinct to be kind? Why is it so ugly and abusive? My inner voice is a gawdamned bully! Why?

I started to really think about this idea that my inner voice is not ME. There is a part of me that finds that to be utterly stupid since the only one in my head is me, but then another part of me got quiet. It was a head-tilt moment. I stepped back and imagined that voice was a demon from another plane of consciousness who was just looking to create negative lightning bolts. Ooooo…not me. Something else, but not me. Could I stop listening? I imagined stepping around a corner so the demon thought it was alone…and there was silence.

I started to laugh. Every time I take the demon’s power away by stepping out of sight, the silence first makes me smile, and then I laugh! Is it relief? Why does that strike me as funny? Not a clue, but it has made me question what our first instinct really is? The lack of chatter in my head allows me to breathe and smile.

I have read that all life moves toward balance. We are surrounded by systems, biological and otherwise, that are apparently working towards equilibrium, yet all it takes is one glitch, one foreign body to throw it all out of whack.

I have also read that all life moves toward decay and chaos. Life expends energy as it moves until the day there is no more energy to be found and death ensues…except that decay itself gives off more energy to feed something else that for a bit maintains balance until it too begins to decay.

So does that mean balance, equilibrium is unsustainable? And even though death and decay are a given, they can sustain something else in its own balance for a brief time. So, what the hell are we striving for?

Popcorn mind…and no closer to knowing how to go forward now that those who have needed me are moving on into worlds and lives that they have created. It is as it should be.

Eye-rolling - Wikipedia


I was reading some old posts on My Divatales blog, and thought I would share one of my favorites.

(First published Sep 27, 2007 )

Psychosomatic Hypochondria and the Small Diva

Motherhood baffles me.  To this day, near 16 years later, this is a truism.

As a young mother, I thought about my mother, watched my sisters, one cousin in particular, and a couple of my friends.  They were marvels of patience, restraint, and creativity.  They UNDERSTOOD the small creatures they bore.  They kissed every non-existent boo-boo, gently dabbed away every crocodile tear, and seemed to enjoy every interminable story.  Their kids seemed to have come with operating manuals.

At first, my progeny scared the hell out of me.  I was more likely to blink in non-comprehension and incredulity than to smile knowingly.  Each new phase in each of my small daughters’ lives was a puzzle, but since I was not a puzzle connoisseur, my instinct was to stand back a bit and watch how things would organize themselves.  I quickly changed sides in the dim-witted nature versus nurture argument…these small beings were hard-wired from conception!   Navigating the adventure of their personalities was generally educational, often confusing and frequently entertaining.  Learning how to react was (and still is) always mystifying.  I often felt like I was doing something wrong.  One sister thought I was terribly unsympathetic…a theatrical flip onto the floor for a temper-tantrum once was not met with warm cuddles as my reaction only allowed me to tell the miniature drama queen to cut the crap and get off the floor.  I fussed on my sister’s criticism, until I realized there was not much floor slapping in my house!  I instinctively felt that drama must always be presented inventively.

My fear has evolved into a healthy respect for my dangerous daughters.  I have developed a life-saving humor so that my shocked blinking can be accompanied by laughter, or at least quiet amusement, as often as possible.  It seems to work.

This house vibrates constantly with drama.  Another young mom delusion I struggled under was thinking that it was my job to maintain a calm, quiet atmosphere to nurture the best in every soul in this family, including the husband unit.  But, slowly, I began to realize that the high-frequency hum that had me undone early every evening was caused by genetics not my ineptness.  They were all divas, my husband included.  The drama crackles constantly because they were all born with it.  Management of this melodramatic bunch has proven to be well-served by humor, sideways watchfulness, and a healthy dose of common-sense skepticism.  Sometimes I can only view the newest act in the dramedy of our lives by tilting my head and squinting my eyes. 

One of our most entertaining adventures involved the Small Diva and her foray into psychosomatic hypochondria…emphasis, most surely, on the “psycho.”

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Diva Dad was working from home. The phone rings, and he answers. He hangs up and yells, “Since when does Small Diva have allergies?”

I yell from my workshop, “Never.”

“Well, she’s been sneezing for the last 20 minutes.  They want us to come get her.”

Very perplexed, I head off to the school.

I open the office door and hear this explosive series of sneezes…fake ones. I walk in and am greeted by very concerned looks from the office staff. I look at my red-faced, sweating 7 year-old, working hard to sneeze her brains out, and, deciding that laughter would be counter-productive, I simply say, “Knock it off.”

And she does.

The office ladies are now scraping their jaws off the floor as I lead my cured child out the door for a chat. Something is up.

After a long discussion about how she really needs to go home ’cause her throat now hurts (from sneezing for half an hour) and she has a fever (elevated body temp from the sneezing exercise she has been engaged in), I start leading her back to class.

Gotta nip this one in the bud.

I keep asking if something is wrong…is somebody mistreating her, teasing her? Something freaking her out in class? Is she worried about something?

She just miserably says nothing is wrong…except for this attack.  Sneeze.  Sneeze.

As we near her classroom, she throws herself at me, grabs my leg and starts wailing about how she just misses me SOOOO MUCH! As I gently peel her off and pull up the pants she’s nearly yanked down, we discuss the fact that I am always home when she gets there and that when she needs me I show up at school, right?  Her shoulders sag in defeat.  She slowly follows me down the last 20 feet to the class door, refusing to let me hold her hand.

She trudges dejectedly into the classroom as her concerned teacher comes out to talk to me.

“I have never seen an allergy attack like that!” she says.

“It was fake,” I tell her.

After she blinks a couple of times, she bursts out laughing.

Small Diva likes her because she is funny, and I can see now that she has a good sense of humor. We discuss the testing that is going on and how Small Diva has a perfection complex that rivals my own, blah, blah, blah…

As I leave, the teacher is smiling and Small Diva is working though she manages one, last, pitiful glance to make sure I know how despondent she is. 

As I am leaving the building, I am asked several times about Small Diva’s attack and watch each jaw drop as I say it was fake. The school nurse laughs and says it was the most committed performance she has ever seen. And then she pats me on the back and says, “Good job, Mom!”  (And she should know as she has been an integral part of my divas’ lives the past several years, hypochondria and all!)

When I get home and tell Diva Dad why I am without the youngest diva, guess what his jaw does. And he says it is a good thing that I went because he would have believed her. Good divas always believe the inventive drama of other good divas.


I wrote more yesterday. A lot more. I got very serious. Tremendously, ridiculously, irritatingly, onerously serious.


I also completely stressed myself out trying to be insightful, honest, and PROFOUND!

Almost deleted it, but then I thought that 1) just because I wrote it does not mean I have to post it; and 2) I should keep it in my drafts to remind me that getting all caught up in the preciousness of my shockingly unique mind rambles is nothing but TIRESOME.

***more eyerolls***

So…I have nothing except I am out of sorts. Sometimes I am very aware that something is percolating, but nothing bubbles up into the little viewing window. I have learned to just wait as it will appear when it is damn well ready.

I can point to one irritation: this is my 4th week in my new job, and I am not working with the kids yet! I really thought they were kidding when they said it might take 3+ weeks to get everyone tested so we could then START to organize the tutoring sessions. It seems that scheduling can also take a ridiculous amount of time, because every class has a unique schedule that must be taken into consideration. And THEN, wrenches are thrown constantly which then sends all concerned back to the drawing board.

I am bored and just want to get on with the tutoring!

What else can I whinge about?

  • I need a book that will knock my socks off.
  • I need a housekeeper to clean my kitchen & bathrooms, vacuum, and do my laundry.
  • I need a new good series to watch on TV at night.
  • I need someone to cook tasty food for me.
  • …I know there’s more…

When my divas were young, I used to write about them because they were so entertaining. Now they are off living their own lives, and I feel like I might morph into one of those monstrosities who talks to people about her freaking cats. Ugh.

I think this is called empty nesting, and it sucks. It is boring only having to worry about oneself, but no, no, no, I am not going to throw myself onto the sacrificial idiot pyre that is the online dating scene. When asked if I have a husband, folks act so sorry when I answer no, until I say there is no need to be sorry or sad because I am fucking ECSTATIC to be divorced! Being in charge of myself and beholden to no one else is heaven, albeit a boring heaven.

But, I miss my family. The youngest diva is here in Minneapolis (a good hour away from where I live), but the middle diva is in Colorado Springs with her fiance, and the oldest one is in Ohio with her husband. And then there is K who lives with her husband in Louisiana, my wonderful mother and my other siblings are in California, and my former mil/great friend is in Virginia. Sure, I can visit, but now I have a job and there are 3 animals to wrangle, and with Covid, I will not be using any public transportation which means I have to drive long distances all by myself.

Oh look, I found more to whinge about.

I think about that wonderful book, Lost Connections, and I know finding my own tribe would be a good thing, but then I think about my beloved introversion, and I worry that I will just be too much myself which means getting irritated by the stupidity that abounds in so-called real life at the moment. I really do not think a new tribe is worth going to prison for.

Ok. Over myself now.

Trying to think of a non-dramatic title…

…is that dramatic?

I have been contemplating starting to write again for quite a while now. Tried to come up with a nifty title for a new blog, but everything I thought of was either already taken (as in, really not that creative) or just embarrassingly silly. Then it occurred to me that I had a perfectly good blog that has been part of my life for ~20 years, and “Taoknitter” has become a part of me (not that I can knit the Tao any better than when I chose the name. It keeps me humble.)



I am still alive.

I write that for my own benefit…and holy fuck if I don’t suddenly feel tears making my eyes burn!

Not sure where to start. Just like everyone I know, life over the past 1 1/2+ years has been an unexpected, brain numbing, extremely unsettling experience. And then there is the continuing disaster that is the idiot-who-shall-not-be-named that “led” this country for 4 years. I tell ya, when Covid 19 hit, I was truly undone. I was terrified, immobilized, panic-stricken, overwhelmed, shocked and, at times, hysterical and unsure why I would want to remain on this planet. I did not actively seek to exterminate myself; instead I started drinking way too much, especially when there was no job to go to anymore because of Covid. This caused me to have an accident that required me to call an ambulance…and after being told that no, I was not in danger of dying, I sent the EMTs away and crawled into my bed in embarrassment (after I called my sister K at near midnight first). I woke up the next morning, called K, and announced that THAT was the end of THAT. No more drinking. She sighed in relief, admitting that she had resolved to tell me that herself.

That was well over a year ago now, and it really was the end of that. I can now clearly see that drinking was just a way of hiding from my extreme fear and feelings of hopelessness about not only my life, but my country. Fucking existential crisis of some magnitude (and here let me point out that I KNOW I was/am not the only one). I slept a lot. I read obsessively about quantum physics and the nature of reality. When my brain was roiling from trying to understand the incomprehensible, I compulsively read hard science fiction (mostly of the apocalyptic type) that led me back to more books on quantum physics…yes, I was trying to find a way to understand and control my concepts of the world, the universe, and my reality. Did it work? Dunno. I do know that I talked K’s ear off!

I do not know what I would do without my sister K. She is my rock, my voice of reason, my champion, my confessor, my sounding board, my collaborator, my mirror, my comedy partner, my unpaid therapist, my commiserator, my bullshit monitor, my shoulder to sob & lament upon…and I can only hope I am some of that for her. She deserves a medal for diving head first down all of those rabbit-holes with me.

There were also difficult journeys to be taken with my diva daughters: one that knocked me upside the head, one that found a new path, and one of which was absolutely terrifying and that still continues but seems to be on the upswing at the moment. I learned so much. So very, very fucking much. I am not who I was which is a damn good thing, but I also seem to have found parts of myself that I lost/ gave away/ buried/ annihilated during my marriage. (Yes, dramatic. I am trying to learn to accept the innate drama that is buried in my genetic make-up.)

There has been lots and lots and lots of therapy. And continuous reading. And I will admit to self-pitying navel gazing occasionally. I really never thought much about what my life would be like when I hit 60 years-old. It was never really something I worried much about until I got here, and then I was rather stunned by how shocking and violent its arrival actually was.

So, I find myself in a place I did not expect. I am teaching again. Not in the arts at all. I shall be tutoring 4-5 grade students in math. Full-time at the intermediate school literally around the corner. Such a wonderful, sharp turn in my life. Back in undergrad, when I chose my path in the arts over the one in the sciences, I told myself I could re-visit my passions in the sciences later in life…and here I am.

And I feel more awake than I have perhaps ever been.

Alterations Price List

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The same message post that got me going in the post below has continued and evolved into a discussion of doing alterations on ID dresses, something many of us hate to do. Certainly is not one of my favorite things to do. I send my folks to an alteration shop near here. I sought her out, showed her how the dresses should work, and she took that over for me. The shop is very fancy and rather elegant…the woman there considers alterations to be an art. Quite frankly, she is so good at it that it IS an art. Here is her website.
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So on the IDDressmaking board, Terrie posted this. Had to post it here because I thought it was hysterical…and true!

“One tailor shop that I worked in around twenty years ago had a fun sign that sometimes we all could use. I’m sure that I’m paraphrasing it, but here goes…
Thanks for the morning laugh, Terrie!
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Alterations – $30 per hour

You worked on it first? – $50 per hour

You want to watch? – $60 per hour

You worked on it first AND want to watch? – $100 per hour

You want to “explain” to me how I should do it? – You can’t afford me.”

More pictures

Finally I have a couple of pics of the two school dresses I am making now.

This is the new Dudney School of Irish Dance school dress. http://www.dudneyirishdance.com/ The design and dress pattern were developed by Susan Gowin of FeisDress. Susan does the embroidery and I do the rest. We finished the first batch for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Alexandria, VA. Now, on with the rest! (I need to get a picture of the shawl.)

Finally got a picture of the vest I made for my mother a couple of years ago. I used a pattern from Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Vests. Mom picked out the yarn…I really do not remember what we used except that it was angora, silk, rayon and metallic, and it felt wonderful. The weight of it makes it drape beautifully. I love the colors.

And here is a pic of my youngest in her pretty poncho. She picked out the yarn…Patons, I think? It has been in the washer several times…gotta love acrylic sometimes! No pattern, just started on my circulars and kept on until it was long enough. There is a hat somewhere.

This is a jacket that I originally started for Molly. She was probably 12 then. Now that she is 14 1/2 it is no longer hip, so Grandma Dolores has claimed it. Almost done…just need to finish the collar border and weave in the wavers.
So for Molly I have started the Rockstar Cardigan from Alchemy. I will post a pic soon.


This is a duster I made for myself (surprised to find this is one of the few things I have ever done for myself) on the knitting machine. Emerald green wool/rayon finished with a black wool crocheted edge. It hangs so nicely. I really like the collar.