Tuesday, January 10, 2017

This is Life

Fabric Mutt pillows

My home is Crazytown, U.S.A. this week, as we are having about half of our downstairs flooring replaced. It's going to be gorgeous when it's done, but right now it's a disaster area. My living room is piled high with furniture, my entryway is taped off with sheets of plastic, and my daughters keep trying to sneak downstairs so they can tap dance on the cement before it's all covered up again. The logistics of keeping our dachshund away from our big dogs and our big dogs away from the workers, all while trying to home school the girls in the midst of ear piercing machinery noise, are becoming a full blown comedy of errors. Really, sometimes there's nothing you can do except throw up your hands and laugh.

It all feels like the antithesis of the Instagram life, which I've been trying so hard to keep up with over the past year. I've had little to show in the way of sewing for the past few weeks because I've had my fabric designer hat on, which means hours of researching ideas, poring over color samples, and sketching on paper and computer. I absolutely love it, but it leaves me with pretty much nothing that I can tell you about. Some days I've found myself scrambling desperately to find something new that I can take a picture of to share so that I don't drift out of the good graces of the algorithm.

In the waning days of 2016, though, I came to a sudden conclusion. Sometimes my life doesn't belong on Instagram. Sometimes the things I'm doing are boring or messy or (as hard as it can be to imagine in this day and age) just personal. I can't imagine that I'm the only one who sometimes finds myself living at the mercy of the taskmaster that social media can be. So much has been said about how we all need to keep it real, yet the pressure never goes away to keep it glossy. But really, it's okay to keep some things private. It's okay to not post every day if you don't have anything to share. It's okay to not feel like you have to have two lives -- the online one and the real one. And there is nothing so creatively inauthentic as feeling that we must drum up more creativity for the sake of posting another picture on our account.

Back when I was an elementary teacher, I had the task one year of being a chaperone for our school's annual 5th grade trip to Washington, D.C. I won't go into the many perils of trying to escort eighty 10-year-olds across the country by plane, supervise them in a hotel, and keep them out of trouble while you visit dozens of national monuments, but I think we can safely say that this was a high stress environment. Remember, this was 9 years ago, back before the social media explosion and when iPhones were still new. As a good teacher, I brought my digital camera along on that trip and used it constantly, but something strange happened when I came home. I realized that I had spent my entire trip looking through the lens of a camera, trying to frame shots and get the right photos instead of really experiencing the adventure. How sad, I thought as I looked back through all those pictures. I missed so much.

I don't want my life to be like that trip to D.C. It reminds me of the chorus from a song by Francesca Battistelli called "Don't Miss It" (you can hear the whole thing here):

Don't try so hard to move past the moment
These days go by and they're gone before you know it
So come on, open your window
Let the light shine in
This is life, don't miss it

When I started blogging, my oldest daughter was just four years old. Next month she turns ten. Everyone keeps telling me to enjoy my girls now, because once I blink, they'll be grown up. I can see the reality of that more every day. I want you to know that I love blogging. I love sharing photos with you of what I'm creating on Instagram or here at Fabric Mutt. That's part of the joy in creating, I think, to not just enjoy it yourself but to share it with others. But my soul needs, just as desperately, the pleasure of taking my girls to lunch or snuggling with my husband while we watch an old movie or baking cookies or roughhousing with the dogs or playing in the garden. Taking time off for those things sometimes means that I may go a bit longer between posts on the blog or social media, but I've made my peace with that. Some things are more important.

They brought in the jackhammers today, and it's loud enough that the schoolbooks are going to have to wait a while. So I'm off to the loft with my daughters to try sewing a doll while they play Strawberry Shortcake and practice the keyboard and see who can make their snack last the longest.

This is life...all of this. And I don't want to miss it.
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