An idea has been brewing in my head for a while now. It was sparked by a funny thought I had and shared on Facebook. A friend suggested it should be on a t-shirt and I laughed it off. I was a busy career woman solo parenting 2 kids. I didn’t need income. I didn’t have time. Times, as they are wont to do, have changed.
Last week I began researching selling those t-shirts. There are numerous sites that support the endeavor and several different business models. The choices include a mix of profit levels along with marketing and customer service support. My goals are realistic. This is really just meant to bring in a wee (and I do mean wee) bit of cash. If it takes off, awesome. If it doesn’t, that’s ok too. It is one of many avenues I’m exploring to support my family.
The process has included an exploration of intent vs. impact and that was not expected. One of the statement t-shirt ideas I had on my list was something that I started using back in 2012 in reference to my voting choices. #Uterus2012 represented my feminist response to the attack on women’s reproductive rights. At least from my perspective at the time. My perspective has changed.
The discussion around the inclusion/exclusion for The Women’s March that took place in January is what changed my perspective. A pink pussy hat was designed and marketed to be a shared symbol for all to wear. Except not all women have pussys. And not all pussys are pink. I hadn’t thought about that when I talk about women’s reproductive rights. It is a nurtured perspective rather than a nature perspective.
#Uterus2012 is a nature perspective. It’s my brain’s starting point. My natural inclination was to focus on a symbol common to women like me. Women born with a uterus. My nurtured perspective wants to include transgender women in my feminist fight. I haven’t figured out how to do that yet in a way that does not seem pandering or appropriative. My work there continues.
Where my work doesn’t continue is the realization that what is written on a t-shirt cannot please everyone. I’m may end up using #Uterus2012 as one of my designs with the knowledge that it excludes transgender women. I won’t do so unless there is a range of products in my portfolio that demonstrate inclusivity. The t-shirts will be edgy and in-your-face which is what I like about #Uterus2012. What I need to work on is making them both feminist and intersectional.
I am becoming more confident in my voice and using it to support others. Most days I think I do a better job of voicing support for others than I do for myself. That is a reflection of where I am in my life. I continue to learn the how of talking to people about racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, etc. I continue to learn and challenge the ways in which I perpetuate those very things. Learning to be a more empathetic and an active supporter in my day-to-day life is a clear path for me. What I want for me isn’t quite so clear.
My wants are banging against the wall of economic needs. I had a lucrative career and I don’t need what’s next to be as lucrative. I need it to cover my bills with a little extra to fix the house and take an annual vacation. I want to use my writing and art to do that and it takes time to build that. My want is to use several different methods to build a livable income while my reality is that I can no longer afford to not have a livable income. My fear is that the need for income will end the dream for something more than what I had before.
My day-to-day journey to happy in little, bite-sized pieces.
Last week I did a Daily Prompt because I didn’t want to work on a piece in my drafts folder and didn’t have an idea for a fresh post. I liked where the post went and decided to do another one today. Today’s word is Exceptional.
A bit loaded for me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about me, myself, and I lately. Trying to shake off the depression and reclaim my happy. Some things are working and I’m feeling better. Happy still seems elusive. Exceptional is a concept I can’t even fathom.
Part of my depression is apathy. Apathy about getting anything done. Apathy about life. The new process of scheduling every task is working to alleviate that feeling. I felt really accomplished this past weekend. I even bragged about it to my sister. It felt good. Pride.
Doing big things a little at a time. Only I can see the day-to-day change and that’s ok. The source of my pride this past weekend was my backyard. It’s overgrown with buckthorn and I’ve been saying I’ll take care of it for years. I’m actually doing it now. I set little goals and scheduled the time to do it. During the week I clear the buckthorn from the garden-ish area that is mostly weeds. Every weekend I clear one small buckthorn tree. By the end of November, I should have one corner of my yard cleared of buckthorn. Repeat for the next 2-3 falls and it will be done.
Once the buckthorn is cleared and I have some trees removed I can move forward with my vision of backyard. The trees are not healthy and do not provide any shade so I want to replace at least two of them with shade trees. I want to plant things that bloom in full color. The previous owner’s landscaping is all green all day. No color. That’s the opposite of me. My vision of my backyard is all the colors of the rainbow.
The backyard is on track. There is also a plan for my house. The state of my house will tell you a lot about where I am on ebb and flow of my mental health. Depression leads to clutter and mess. My house gets cleaner and I focus on decluttering when I’m coming out of my depressive periods. I’m not sure my house will ever really be clean. It’s a bit overwhelming because it’s the whole house. I do really well with the decluttering so I’m going with that for now.
Back when I was working my company closed our corporate headquarters and relocated downtown. At the end, they were just throwing the office supplies into big dumpsters. I had the idea that I could take some of those office supplies and donate them to a school in need. That was nearly 2 years ago. Those supplies have been sitting in four big bins in my living room. Last week I went through them, wrote down what they contained and emailed an organization about the donation. Tomorrow I drop them off.
My goal for the winter is to finish my living room. I started painting it and never finished. Partly because I didn’t know what I wanted to do on one of the walls. I’ve figured that out and so I’m going to add that to my schedule in December after the yardwork season ends. My vision of my living room involves lots of drawers so I can move the clutter from on-top of things to inside drawers. It’s going to be amazing.
I have plans and I’m working little, by little, to make them a reality. That reality will be exceptional.
Last week I started scheduling my days. It’s been going pretty well and it’s helping do the things I want to do and the things I need to do. I’m feeling like I’m getting more done. I’m also feeling exhausted. The things I’m doing aren’t physically hard. I’ve made a concerted effort to do things that make me uncomfortable when it comes to job hunting. It’s emotionally exhausting and I’m not sure it’s even working.
One of my scheduled activities is writing. I’ve been doing a mix of finishing old posts and creating fresh posts. Today I didn’t want to tackle an old post and nothing fresh was of mind so I thought I would check out The Daily Post’s one-word prompt. Today it is Deny. I sighed. It’s such a negative word.
I’m fighting with the negative right now. I used to be a happy person who enjoyed life and its challenges. I’m not in that place right now. I know it and I’ve been trying to do things in a more positive light. I post my writings with the knowledge most of them have a negative theme. That’s part of the reason I looked to The Daily Post today. I wanted a post filled with positivity.
The reason for the schedule was to help me do the things I want to do. Writing is one of those things. Today I’m striving to make my writing more positive.
Yesterday was my Mixed Media Journaling class. Another place I’m striving for positivity. We have been working on a number of pages, adding layers of texture and color. Some of my pages are darker than I’d like. I’m making a conscious effort not to let darkness into my journal. We were finishing one of the first pages we started. It was one of my brighter pieces.
The theme of my page is Exploring. One of the layers was an abstract bookshelf. I added the names of books that have a special meaning to me to the spines of the books. One of the steps was to add a quote to the page that emphasized our theme. I chose an Octavia Butler quote:
I am exploring what that means for me. I want things to be different. I want to love my job and the people I work with. I’m not the same person I was a year ago. Things were pretty ugly and stressful during my last year of work. I’m glad I was laid off as part of the downsizing because, as I look back on it, I don’t like who I became during that year. It’s taken me a long time to be sure that I want to go back into the same career. I’m nervous about getting caught up again in the negative dynamics that were happening where I worked. I do not want to return to that type of culture.
Ideally, I would like a job close to my home with a minimal commute. I’m not sure that’s realistic so am moving my focus to downtown so that I can take the train to work rather than driving. My desire is to continue to write every day and I would be able to do that on the train. I fear a long commute by car would be the end of this blog and my writing.
Keeping the ability to do the things I enjoy that are not work related is important to me. I stopped doing a lot of things for me when I was so wrapped up in work and raising my kids. I’m choosing to do more things for me. This blog. The Mixed Media Journaling class. Writing classes at the library. Reading books. Last night I was thinking I should get back into crocheting. I haven’t done that since before my daughter was born. I want to learn to sew and my sister is giving me one of her extra sewing machines so that I can do that.
Things that make me happy are a priority. I’m not denying that for myself any longer.
Last night I watched The Incredible Hulk. I’d seen it before so I was only paying partial attention. Mostly I was in my own head thinking. I’ve been spending a lot of time there lately and it usually ends up with me forgetting something or messing up. While I was distracted I did notice the recurring clock in the movie. “Days without incident”.
I can’t remember the last day I had without incident. My incidents don’t involve me turning green, but sometimes there is anger. My incidents are just my anxiety dropping by to say hello. The internal static that makes the hair on my arms stand up on end. The hole in my center that pulses and demands to be filled. The tears that fall. It’s uncomfortable and isolating and I do my best to manage it.
Management is failing me right now. I’m a logical person. Logically it makes sense that I’m having issues with my anxiety right now. I’ve been out of work for over a year. I haven’t been having much luck finding a job so that is a stressor. My savings passed a threshold I didn’t want to happen. Another stressor. My house is a fixer-upper and there are a couple things that can no longer wait to be fixed. My kids are having problems at school. I need a haircut. Stress. Stress. Stress.
Last winter brought with it depression. There was a period of time where I spent my entire day in my bedroom. The kids would leave for school and I would head back to bed. I did everything in my bedroom. I searched for a job, read books, ate, just laid there. It was warm and comforting. I didn’t feel the anxiety. I didn’t feel much other than that warmth and comfort. Now my feelings are an exposed nerve.
Today’s morning trigger was the weather report. It’s going to be 80-degrees today. That was the trigger. The underlying cause is the weight gain over the past year. I’m up two sizes. Few of my clothes have followed. I’m not working so spending money on new clothes isn’t a priority. Add the fact that I have outgrown two interview outfits. I had planned an appropriate outfit — not too casual, not too business-like. An outfit better suited to the 60’s or 70’s.
I finally settled on an outfit. It’s a bit more casual than I wanted, but it fits and I won’t melt too much. I’ll be wearing it with my anxiety. It hasn’t left me.
It was supposed to be the month where I wrote every day. Maybe moved two short story ideas from rough draft to final copy. A focus on the memoir entries. Maybe a few reflections on current events to fill in the gaps. Writing. Every day.
And then the rains came.
A torrential downpour that flooded my basement the day before leaving on a vacation. I spent the day moving everything to the dry part of the basement, wet vacuuming up the water, mopping the place down with bleach and setting up the dehumidifier to run non-stop while I was away on vacation. Still had to pack and be ready for an 8-hour drive the next day.
Ready, set, off for vacation.
The plan was to write in my notebook while on vacation. The goal wasn’t 1,000 words a day for those days, but just to write. That didn’t happen. That was not a realistic goal. Two full days of driving to get to our destination, one full day spent with our family quickly followed by another two days of driving. When exactly was I going to write?
No problem. Will pick up the writing when I get home and get back on task.
I felt it starting the last day while driving home. That scratchy throat that means nothing good is coming. We made it home. Exhausted. Woke up the next morning and *IT* had arrived.
Some people get a little sick. Not me. I commit. I was taking one of those -D drugs that you have to sign for at the pharmacy. Didn’t help. Spent most of the next 5 days in bed sleeping or out of bed feeling miserable. Writing? What’s that?
Monday was the first day I felt better. I went and did some stuff and was ready for bed by 6. It still lingers today, but it is more allergy-like than illness-like.
My daily writing goal for July is history. All I can do at this point is pick up where I left off and continue on. So that’s what I’m going to do.
I’m taking a couple days off from my memoir writing project. We have a busy day today and tomorrow and I’m finding that my writing flows better when I’m not trying to squeeze it into a set amount of time.
Camp NaNoWriMo has given me some focus. The memoir entries I’m writing are meant for my kids. Some will be shared with them now and some later as they get older. I started this because I only know bits and pieces of my parents and grandparents stories. We share events. I want to share impacts.
One thing that surprised me over the past three days is how much I want my mother and my siblings to write about the events thus far. I’m not sure I have the confidence to share with them some of what I have written. I will see how I feel at the end of the writing project. Perhaps imagining their perspectives is where my memoir becomes a novel.
I’m starting small. Memoir entries. A few short story ideas. I don’t yet feel like I have a novel to write. My plan is to work on my short stories offline today and tomorrow. Flush out the key scenes and then start to build the rest. I haven’t written a short story since high school so I did some research about writing. I’m drawn to the concept of three, but neither of my story ideas have that. I’m hoping I can incorporate it into at least one of them. Need some more noodling to get there.