Wednesday, July 20, 2011

day trip to viroqua: part two

After plotting our next move at the Optimo Cafe, JohnaLee and I headed to the Tobacco Shed to see what treasures were trapped inside. She kept gushing about it, but I didn't realize how awesome it would be until I saw it with my own eyes.

$4 aprons heaped messily on top of one another.

Endless records to paw through.

Quilts & assorted blankets in various stages of finishing.

Hand-embroidered Norwegian pillow. I lingered over this baby for a loooong time.

Light filtering through dirty, dusty old milk bottles.

Trunks, patchwork quilts, purses.

My violet quilt!


Every time I find a set of these rose glass sherbet cups I stare at them longingly. There's no room in my life for breakable things like these currently... I'm uprooted soon enough from WI for a few years, and I could end up anywhere after that, so these will be a someday purchase. When my life is stable enough to include a pretty cabinet to display these in I'll know the timing is right.

Tempting tablecloths. WHY, oh why do I love bright colors? Why can't I be a minimalist who only likes blue things, or, even more specific, plaid items in the shade of cerulean? As it stands I love a frenzy of colors and patterns, making it hard for me to avoid a variety of objects. My style can best be described as calamitous. I embrace it; it's my burden to bear. Still, I'm not sure that certain individuals in my life really get it.

No matter.  I will happily live alone in my refurbished farmhouse filled with books in floor-to-ceiling bookcases, old lady cabbage rose wallpaper on the wall. A cat named Hector constantly underfoot. Tall windows and huge couches stacked with soft quilts on the arms. Jars of buttons, cloth napkins, one TV in the house hidden away in a cabinet upstairs to watch the occasional movie/season of Mad Men. Large rooms filled with light. Land outside, space to grow and room to think, a big vegetable garden.

Along with daydreaming about my future home, I've been thinking a lot about what I want out of life. I feel like I have grown this summer, at least insofar as realizing what sort of life I want to live.

1. I want to live simply. 

Cutting out factory farmed meat. Growing my own vegetables when I have the land. Joining a co-op. Never having cable again. Creating things myself. Most of all this is mental: don't overcomplicate things. Don't get unnecessarily worked up. For the most part, life is pretty easy if you keep a laid-back mindset. There are challenging, ugly parts too, but facing it head on is all you can do. I would rather live with a lighthearted, snarky attitude. Pointless negativity without making a change doesn't get anyone anywhere. It just poisons those around you.

2. I want to feel my emotions freely

This means not telling myself "I shouldn't feel this way" for whatever reason: because it's improper, it will lead to a tough change, I don't want to confront that emotion, someone will laugh at me, etc. If you are honest with yourself you will grow. If you're not, you will likely shrivel up, emotionally speaking. I can't speak for others but whenever I've tried to dismiss an emotion it has come back in full force in a way that is even more challenging to deal with.

Obviously this doesn't mean blurting out some rude, unnecessary comment just because it pops into your head - dealing with emotions takes careful consideration. It's common to feel things that can seem out of control. Jealousy was always the one that got me. It would sneak up on me. My heart would beat so fast that I thought it would jump out of my skin. I could feel the adrenaline. I would practically snarl, tongue so sharp you could cut anything on it. I know from experience that it takes knowledge of oneself to utilize the non-animal part of your brain, to know what you can do to make yourself okay. (Yes, you; it's your crazy human emotions, after all - not someone else's. Personal responsibility first and foremost.)

So, what's the solution? Music? A moment of fresh air? Forcing your mouth into a smile that will puncture the tidal wave of whatever you are feeling? All of the above?

Sometimes we disappoint ourselves and each other. Apologize fast, and I mean fast. Pride is worth nothing at the end of the day. Forgive the worthy and forgive yourself.

3. I want to adapt

Life requires constant adaptation. You need to grow or the result is a stagnant life. I think the amount of books I read keeps my mind in a perpetual state of growing and changing. (Shameless plug for books!) I especially see adaptation as vital in terms of romantic partnerships and other relationships. People will be affected quite differently by life's circumstances. Sometimes it is worth weathering the storm, but sometimes, well, it isn't. Only you can make that call.

I don't want to be afraid to make that call. I don't want to fear mess and upheaval so much that I sacrifice valuable minutes, hours, years. I just want to live the best way I can. If I don't, there's no one else to blame.

4. I want to remember that it's okay to be alone

I have always loved to be alone. Yes, I have a group of people that I adore, but I can never have too much time to myself. I see a lot of codependency in my peer group and it makes me cringe. Relationships with others are important, yes, but only as important as the relationship you have with yourself. Get your mind out of the gutter - that is not (exclusively) what I am referencing. To me this means mostly that if I want to go do something and everyone else is busy, I do it anyway. Time spent alone is truly a luxury. I will teach my children this. By embracing your imagination you will never be lonely.

Watch this video. Right now. Do it.

5. I want to remain in awe

To me this means treasuring the small moments. Feeling grateful to my parents, friends, family - all those who help me, encourage me, make me laugh. It's easy to be weighted down by life. Bills, debt, hurt feelings, unfairnesses small and large, awful things you read on the news, costly mistakes, politicians of every stripe, death. There's really no getting around it: life is overwhelming. For some people, remaining in awe means giving thanks to their particular god. For me, I just try to actively recognize how beautiful our world is. I feel lucky every day to be healthy, educated, surrounded by inspiring people. Even on bad days, there is an endless list of things that are JUST SO AMAZING. Of course, it can be easy to forget at times. I'm no paragon of virtue, but I do know that gratitude takes a conscious effort. It won't just show up one day. It's not something you wait to adopt at a later point. You integrate it into your thought patterns and it will change you almost instantly.

Whoa. Sorry if parts sounded a bit Dr. Phil-like, or Hallmarky. I've just been pondering a lot and I enjoy using this space to write it out. Verbalizing holds me accountable and it makes me feel powerful. I am a college graduate, I can legally drink, I have been deemed an adult by society. It's a really empowering thought to grasp that I can construct whatever sort of life I want for myself. I can be active, not passive, in creating and realizing my ideal life. Perhaps this is obvious or self-explanatory to some, but for me right now in this moment it is wildly new. Tender and thrilling. Joyous.


  1. Great post! Very inspiring!

  2. That Hand-embroidered Norwegian pillow reminded me of something....
    we have embroidery lessons to work through before you leave!!!


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