Archive for January, 2010

Creation, crafts, and crochet

Something I haven’t posted about in a while here is CRAFTING!!  My creativity is flowing pretty well lately, evidenced by my more frequent blog posts!  – which I attribute to Kundalini yoga, 12-step, and generally taking better care of myself.

These days I mainly crochet, though I’ve learned to knit and do some sewing, and used to work a lot in oil paint, oil pastel, and ceramics.  Fiber art is like painting, but less messy, which is part of why I like it. I also like the textures – you can’t touch a wet painting [well, you can, but you’d mess it up and get paint all over yourself], but you are tactilely stimulated just by holding an unfinished fiber project.

I favor crochet in particular because it is immediately gratifying. You can create something in about 5 minutes that didn’t exist in the world until you translated from your brain, to you hand, to your hook & yarn. Voila!

I’m really getting tuned in to the sacredness of the act of creating. I’m not really talking about making stuff, although that has been my focus for a while now, but really on the process and act of creation. is it possible to leave the world a better place than it was yesterday because of something you created today? I think if we can each aspire to that goal, what a beautiful place the world would be!

Even though I just said that I don’t want to focus on ‘things’ per se, this blog is a good opportunity to share some of the creative work I’ve done recently that didn’t make it to my etsy shop ~ usually because they were commissioned or were sold in person before getting up on my shop.

This piece is a purse [unfinished] that was commissioned for the holiday season by a friend. He showed me a painting his wife had bought him and said ‘those colors, she likes those colors.’  so that’s what I worked from in my head. I got to use a lot of fun colors, textures & yarns for this one. Lined with a patterned cotton, 3 pockets inside, and a braided shoulder strap sewn into metal loops…

Freeform crochet purse

Freeform purse side 2

This drawstring purse is actually one of the first things I ever crocheted, waaaay back in 2006. I just sold it last December at a craft show. Before then I’m sure it was hiding away in a rubber tub with all my crafting stuff, waiting to feel adequate enough for someone to love it … It’s in a good home now.

Here we see another ‘experiment’, first time try at using one of those knitting looms. I call it the Rockstar/Tina Cap after Tina i

n the TV Show “Glee” … it has subtle sparkly & verigated ribbon woven through out and gathering in a nice cascade in the back (screw pom poms!!), like a pony-tail.

Originally I got the loom thinking that I could use it to make hats that could them be embellished, like the above purse. I didn’t really have time and just dressed up this black hat, and guess what, someone snatched it up at the same craft show last year.

OK that’s all I’m putting up for now. I need to work on some graphic projects, and also back to the wedding throw I’m making for my friend [out of Red Heart Eco-yarn, made from recycled materials]. I hardly follow patterns or do large projects, so this is going to be a breakthrough for me.  I’ll post some photos later.

PEACE!

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Insights into codependence

I starting going to a 12-step group for codependence about a month ago. What started me was reading the book “Facing Codependence” by Pia Mellody and recognizing myself on almost every page. I’ve tried other 12-steps before (Al-anon, SLAA), but none of them really seemed to ‘fit’, until this one.

I want to share a little excerpt from Pia’s book here. I think it’s a useful insight into our culture, no matter if you struggle with self-esteem or codependency issues or not (although in our culture, it’s hard to not be affected by either of these issues).

WHAT OUR SOCIETY SAYS ABOUT FEELINGS

“Our culture divides our feelings into two kinds: “good” and “bad.” Anger pain, fear, guilt, and shame are labeled bad or negative. Joy we consider good or positive. Unfortunately, this sort of ‘black or white’ categorizing is erroneous and dysfunctional.

“One dysfunctional message our culture gives us is that most of the time it’s not acceptable to have “bad” feelings listed above. The message to children is that mature, well-controlled, successful adult people stay ‘rational’ at all times, which means staying out of ‘bad’ feelings. By the time one is an adult, the message often is, ‘If you’re really mature, you don’t need to have ‘bad’ feelings.’

“Parelleling that message is one that says that if a person does own and express any such emotions, that person is immature. I fthe feelings are moderately intense, the person is labelled ’emotional’ (as opposed to rational). And if the feelings are extremely intense, the person had moved into the realm of craziness. Since of the major symptoms of codependence is ‘feeling crazy’ because our emotions seem to be out of control, we codependents feel a lot of guilt and shame for being who we are.”

I want to pause here — the last three paragraphs personally gave me so much freedom because I have always felt that I am fighting to not feel guilt & shame for who I am and have spent much of my life angry at others for ‘not getting it’. As you can guess, I am used to being labelled ’emotional’ and ‘feeling crazy’ and on some level had come to accept this about myself – but hoping that others could accept me also. Acceptance was something I didn’t feel much of when I was younger …

The next two paragraphs I think are quite insightful about gender and feelings. The text is a bit dated, but I think the core message is still true:

“Another cultural message is that even if it is acceptable to our family and friends for us the have some feelings, there are still certain feelings that we’re not to have. for example, in our society, men must not have fear. If a man is afraid, he’s a coward. It’s acceptable for a woman to be afraid, because she’s supposed to be weak and vulnerable. But woman must not be angry. If a woman is angry, she’s a witch. But a man’s anger is his male right; he’s just exerting his power.

“Pain is not acceptable for either sex. The message is, ‘You have a right to not have any pain, so take whatever you need to numb it.’ Since wisdom and maturity come from facing pain and learning from it, I believe we are a nation of very immature people who don’t have a willingness to experience the pain that leads to authentic wisdom. We haven’t learned how to tolerate pain and deal with it as an agent of positive change.”

– Pia Mellody, “Facing Codependence.” pp. 92 – 93

Bravo, especially to the last two points. Pia Mellody is absolutely right on the count of Americans being immature, running from and covering up their pain. I think it’s rare to find people now who take time away from their technology, jobs, busy lives, whatever, for spiritual reflection & authentic expression … well, maybe they do, but I’m not sure where that dialogue is occurring.  I know during my childhood in several Christian churches, I didn’t hear much of authentic dialogue going on … It wasn’t until I got into a secular self-help seminar and then a Unitarian church that I felt there was an environment that encouraged and supported people in facing their pain and moving through it – with an understanding that on the other side is … FREEDOM.

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Vegan on a dime

One of the most common reasons I hear from ominvores about why they haven’t gone vegan/vegetarian yet is the cost. However, if they really looked and considered the prices of most veggies, beans & whole grains against the cost of meat and dairy, they would see very little difference – in face, a veg diet would afford more variety and nutrient dense foods.

I’m bringing this up now in particular b/c I just reevaluated my budget for 2010 and as I’m trying to pay off debts and have allotted a mere $150 per month to food – that’s about $37 per week [as I recall, this is slightly above the food stamp allotment in circa 2005]. At first I was scared, but when I went to the local supermercado (NOT Whole Foods!!) I realized that is is actually doable with a little industriousness and creativity. After all, I rationalized, people have been cooking from scratch with very little animal product for thousands of years. Peasants seldom have access to much animal protein and make do on beans, grains, and vegetables, and fruits. In fact, the price on avocados, a staple of most vegan diets, is lowest at el supermercado (50 cents!). Forget organic! I can do that later when I’m growing my own. for now, I need to make it through the next 12 – 18 months on this slim budget.

So anyway, here’s a sample of my shopping list from January (for 3-4 weeks) for all you non-veg so you can see how ‘the other half’ lives. All this cost me about $100.

I don’t plan my meals strictly, but I have a pretty good grasp on what types of foods & flavors go well together and I am quite creative in the kitchen … I like to cook Mexican b/c it’s easy, nutritious (protein!) and there are infinite variations on the theme.

Sundays I try to make a large batch of something & bake bread if needed, to last for weekday lunches [yes, I pack my own lunch!] I had to go to a couple different stores, and I returned about $10 in bottles also towards my bill … I will admit that this month I did shop at Trader Joe’s, Whole foods in addition to the supermercado but I plan on reducing my dependence on those next month.

I already keep a large supply of flours and rices & oils, & onions, spices etc. in my cupboards … I still make room for [cheaper] luxury items such as tea & chocolate [most chocolate darker than 75% is vegan; read the label!].

January Groceries:

Coconut milk

5 lbs. Spelt flour

Agave nectar & giant tub of hummus (Costco)

Guacamole & Salsa – handmade

4 roma tomatoes

2 tomatillos

3 limes, 2 lemons

3 lb. bag of organic gala apples

whole baby mushrooms

2 blood oranges

2 persimmons

3 lb.s of sweet potatoes

Celery Hearts

bag o’ baby spinach, romain hearts

1 chayote squash

Apple Cider

3 gal filtered water refill [I bring a jug & refill it for $1]

Almond milk

2 cans black beans, 1 can garbanzo, 2 cans vegetarian refried beans

white corn tortilla chips

Whole wheat tortillas (locally made)

Polenta

Organic Tofu, veg ‘chicken-less’ strips

fake chicken patties [I do not recommend eating this much soy, or buying vegan convenience foods, b/c they ARE expensive]

Instant Oatmeal (about 25 cents per breakfast!)

Cinnamon raisin bagels (I’m sort of addicted to these for my morning snack, smother with sunbutter)

Raisins

Box o’ jasmine green tea

Roasted salted cashew (not cheap but they pack a lot of calories & fat)

savory rice crackers (to go with hummus)

Yeast (for baking bread)

Dark Chocolate (from Trader Joe’s)

My Sunday cooking:

This week, I’m baking 2 loaves of bread, I made a tub of lentil pate (very simple recipe, reminiscent I suppose of chopped liver. Ok so maybe it doesn’t sound tasty, but wouldn’t you rather eat lentils than liver?!), used some of the bread dough to make little sourkraut-stuffed rolls (yummm). For breakfast I made some tofu scramble w/toast that was quite good. I don’t eat soy everyday (I’m sensitive to it), so I try to only have it a few times a week and instead eat a lot of beans & lentils for protein; and supplement with a rice protein shake once in a while.

Last week I made a giant quinoa salad that lasted all week! the week before that I made a delicious gluten-free ‘hippie’ meatloaf out of mushrooms, quinoa, and black beans. that lasted me all week also.

Hope this has been informative! I welcome comments or questions!

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Ishmael in hibernation

Hibernation

My blog is in hibernation apparently. Suffering neglect. The fact is, blogging feels a bit too public and bothersome. Readers don’t really want to know the gory details of a strangers life … or do they?

I’ve gotton used to 140 character updates on twitter. writing much more than that seems long-winded or pretentious! Bytes of information should suffice.

What I’m reading:

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.

I’m not done with this book yet, and I love it. Maybe I’m prolonging the ending by not getting to it … but I am surprised when people say ‘oh yeah I read it’ and then glibly move on to some other inane topic. How can you read this book and not be moved???!!  Probably people don’t want to talk about it b/c it left the metallic taste of blood and guilt in their mouth after they put it down, and that’s all they remember.

The premise of the book is that a resigned, post-hippie-era writer (Quinn?) finds his search for truth reignited by a classified ad by a teacher seeking a pupil. The teacher is an intelligent and telepathic gorilla who is trying to reach out to any Westerner that can possibly grasp the impact of what thousands of years of Western mythologies have done to the planet. Hello, is anyone listening?

Anyway, read it and be prepared to have the cultural perspective you’ve grown to take for granted be questioned and disassembled. My recomendation is to not try to put the pieces back where you think they should be – because you will be lying to yourself. Quinn is insightful in the way I wish more authors would be. He’s writing stories that matter.

Update January 25

I finished reading Ishmael yesterday. I don’t want to ‘ruin’ for anyone but I still like it as much as I did before. Actually feel I need to go back and reread the last few pages. I want to put a quote on here that I feel sums up what I got from the book…

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