The summer of day dates…or not.

We decided over 6 months ago that this would be the year to take our kids to Taiwan for language summer camp. It’s a dream my husband has had since they were born. And we are set to leave soon. We’ve imagined the summer as one where the kids would do the camp and my husband and I would use the days for day dates. We haven’t had much time just the two of us since our kids were born. This would be our first opportunity for extended time together. Exploring, eating, talking, relaxing and seeing all that Taipei has to offer.

Enter fractured ankle, crutches and The Boot. Oh, and a scooter.

So yeah, I fractured my ankle recently. While walking. Every plan we have for this trip is being re-examined, changed and many things have to be let go. (Right now I’m on a long, long hold with the airline to see if I can get more leg room for my boot and crutches. Ever been on a plane with crutches? I wonder how small the bathroom will feel now!).

It’s so hard to let go. It’s so hard to rest when you have to do it. It’s so hard to be dependent on others.

Every morning I wake up I have to re-calibrate, find perspective and determination to start the day. Showers: a feat in balancing. Going downstairs: only one trip with all I need in my backpack. Cooking: takes 10 times as long. And every morning I’m trying to start with gratitude. Gratitude for exceptional kids who are stepping up; an extremely positive husband (who can be more of a pessimist in real life); an ankle that will heal. That we can afford the medical bills. A 100% survival rate. Thankful that I’m a stay at home mom with no directing job at the moment so there’s no worry getting to work.

To be honest, I wish it wasn’t so hard. I kinda feel bad that it does feel so hard. I want nothing more than to be completely content with knitting, mending, and embroidery while sitting on the couch, kids swirling around. And I am, for the most part.

But I’ve even had to let go of my original making goals for this trip as well. And while that may seem trivial to some, making is very much what helps me keep a healthy mental outlook.

My idea was to sew a mini capsule wardrobe complete with a loosely structured color story: black, white, navy blue, rust and coral. I had a few things made but was waiting until after Squam and the end of the school year craziness had passed. Gypsum skirt, Wiksten shift dress and tank top, black linen shorts and a Willow tank were on the list. It was ambitious but when a deadline is looming, I work best.

Needless to say there is no capsule wardrobe coming to Taiwan in the way I envisioned. It will still a capsule of sorts with a mix of handmade and ready to wear, but curated to make sure it works with crutches and The Boot. I had to order a million shoes to find two that would work with The Boot. (Thank you Zappos!)

This past week, the illusion that sewing could be accomplished still tugged in my mind. I really didn’t want to let it go. But reality is that my ankle needs to be elevated for most of the day not pointing down while I negotiate the sewing machine foot pedal or going back and forth between the ironing board and sewing table with crutches.

I guess I need to remember to be kind to myself. It’ll take some time to get on board with the current reality, especially when it’s so different from what I had planned and imagined. I’m not the best at being flexible. It’s the re-adjustment phase that’s most difficult.

So once I move through this most difficult transition from what I thought the trip would be like to what it really is, I hope to be able see what our day dates might look like with crutches or the scooter. Maybe bubble tea downstairs, maybe across the street for lunch. Maybe just the apartment. Not dressed in my “Taiwan Capsule Wardrobe” but in the “The Boot Wardrobe”, it’ll still be in clothes that feel good. Letting go of what is no longer possible and being open to what may be revealed under these new circumstances is the goal. Most likely there will be other trips to Taiwan were I can run my feet to the ground all over the city. This trip is about being present and letting go.

At least one suitcase will be packed with far too many knitting projects and supplies for an embroidery idea waiting to come to life. Plus reading! When have I had a chance just to knit and read the day away? It’s sounding better already. Day dates with my husband and….myself.

Me Made May and me

This was the first year that I participated in Me Made May, an event on Instagram that was created 10 years ago by Zoe Edwards to celebrate handmade clothing. Often clothes are made but not worn and this was an effort to encourage the making community to wear them proudly.

Typically with these online, month long, play along prompts if I join, I post for the first day or two and then I fall off. Me Made May was a bit different as I have to get dressed anyway each day and the longer I participated, the momentum to stay with it grew. I’ve never posted so many pictures of myself online before. Lots of me. I found a quick and dirty way to take my picture in my backyard and didn’t fuss too much over it. I figured it was more true to the prompt if I didn’t stage what I was wearing. But sometimes someone would snap a picture for me which was a nice break from the backyard selfie. Along the way I learned a few things:

There’s enough handmade clothing in my closet now that it isn’t hard to wear at least one piece each day, even as the seasons change.

The goal to have a completely handmade wardrobe isn’t as strong of a need anymore. It’s fun to mix and match ready to wear pieces with the handmade clothing. Which means I wear more of what’s in the closet already instead of always making something new.

Dresses and skirts are some of my favorite things to sew but don’t wear them as much as I’d like. So I need to invest in leggings or slip shorts to make it easier to grab a dress out of my closet.

I love to wear my linden sweatshirts, a lot, and want to make more! And maybe try some new sweatshirt style patterns?

The biggest lesson I came away with while documenting what I wore each day was unexpected. I liked the way I looked in my clothes. I don’t tend to really care for how I’m reflected in pictures. And yes, while I only selected the most flattering of pictures to share, I was fond of what I had to choose. It definitely boosted my confidence and it wasn’t because of the feedback (or lack thereof) I received, but because I felt joy in wearing my clothes and that translated into the photos.

Now for reference on my phone there are 31 outfits (many repeats) to select from in my closet and that makes packing for trips and getting dressed in the morning a little bit easier.

The gift of Squam

Freshly returned from a glorious weekend on Squam Lake in New Hampshire for the Spring Squam Art Workshop, my heart and mind are so content. Being on the lake, surrounded by all kinds of creative people and spaces, in nature, without the daily demands of home can allow for a deeper connection to values that can be forgotten day to day. Squam created space for me to remember:

The value of my fiber crafts.

The value in taking the time to be completely immersed in nature and creativity.

The value in myself and what I need to fill my cup.

The value in new and old friendships.

The value in taking a break from the everyday.

Then after being home for 48 hours, I fell at my son’s school. And as I was falling I felt a small, faint yet distinct pop.

I fractured my ankle. Same ankle that I fractured a little over two years ago.

And all that lightness, clarity and contentment from my time at Squam vanished. Reality came crashing down.

When I broke my ankle last time, it really took a toll on me physically and mentally. It’s so hard to not be able to do the things you need and want to do. It highlights all the ways our community, and my home especially, are not set up for non able body movement. Crutches hurt and balancing on one leg to cook dinner (or brush teeth or go to the bathroom) is difficult.

By choosing to go to Squam, I made the conscience decision to make time to invest in myself. This experience created space for me to further define who I am and how I want to show up in the world. Carving out this time has the added benefit of deepening my belief in myself and that what I have to offer has value, purpose and a place in this world.

In the grand scheme of things, a broken ankle is not the worst thing. And while I can’t rewind and take back the miss step that sent me tumbling to the ground, I can choose how I respond to it. Will I succumb and stumble to a darker place or will I take it slow and then slower, letting go of control and find comfort in my family, friends and especially my craft practice? Once again, life is asking me to adjust my expectations, let go of plans and be present.

Taking the time to go to an art retreat is such a privilege. And while it takes courage to go spend a week with strangers, to be vulnerable and allow oneself to be open it also is by my own choice, something I paid money to do. Now, with a fractured ankle, my values, these lessons and insights gained from my time at Squam are being tested. I’m confronted with the task to see if these revelations apply when things aren’t easy, smooth or a choice. Can I find these values in my current situation?

The value of my fiber crafts especially when I need to be resting, healing. Knowing how they bring me calm and purpose while waiting for x-rays and doctor appointments. How they give me a sense of progress in a day when nothing else gets done.

The value in taking the time to be completely immersed in nature and creativity. How going outside for a brief breath of fresh air, letting the warm air and sun hit my face. Maybe do a few knitting rows on the bench with my foot propped up instead of always lying in bed or on the couch.

The value in myself and what I need to fill my cup. Reminding myself it’s not my fault that I fractured my ankle. I’m strong and capable and I will heal and being even stronger still. Maybe I do need to order out dinner, call a friend or watch a movie midday. I must be kind to myself.

The value in new and old friendships. I can say yes to help. I can lean on those around me. To say yes doesn’t make we weak. I don’t have to hide from my friends and pretend I can do it all until I’m fully healed.

The value in taking a break from the everyday. Right now it’s almost impossible to do the everyday tasks. I have to be ok with that. If I injure myself further because I insist on putting the laundry away, doing the dishes, or sweeping the floor, is it worth it? Will the house and my family fall apart?

No.

But it will be hard because there will be moments in every day that will test me.

Employing what I learned and reconnected with by going to Squam and applying them to the present, right now, it not only essential, it’s what has the most value.

That is the true gift.