Sew Smart

IMG_2737Ever since a girlfriend and I had weekly “Project Runway Date Nights”  years ago, I have been hooked on the show.  It was such a fun time!  We would take turns “hosting” our dates, and always served up a little nosh and a few glasses of something yummy to enjoy during the show.  We loved to critique the critiques, judge the judges, and root for our favorite designers all season long.

This was the year before The Year I Started to Sew, and  – really – Project Runway was my inspiration.  Whether it was watching the designers create that inspired me, or the thought of handling all kinds of FABRIC (I have an addiction),  the result was an inexpensive Brother’s sewing machine purchased a whim (The “Project Runway” model, of course), and the launching of a whole new way to express myself.

mondo

Mondo Guerra. Photo Credit: Unknown

Project Runway has all the makings of great reality television.  There’s the exciting competition for the Holy Grail of becoming the next “It Girl” of the fashion industry ($100K cash ain’t too shabby, either ).  There’s beautiful fashion, awesome guest judges and shade galore (No “T”, No Shade, Gurl!”).  And one of my favorite parts: the heart warming “overcoming the odds” stories that never fail to bring a tear to the eye and inspiration to the heart. Stories like Mondo, who – after 10 years of silence – came out on

Ashley Nell Tipton. Photo credit: Unknown

Ashley Nell Tipton. Photo credit: Unknown

the runway as being HIV positive.  (He won Season 8, and is huge in the industry now.) Or Ashley, the uber curvy retro girl with the purple hair who began sewing as a way to self-medicate from a lifetime of bullying.  She ended up taking the whole shebang in Season 14,and now has a line of Plus Size clothing in JC Penneys.

Sew awesome!

Every show has an element of surprise thrown in, too.  Maybe 2 designers will be eliminated instead of 1, or Tim Gunn gets so mad, he drops the F bomb!  (For some reason, that was HUGE!)   Whatever makes up the Magic, it works and they have millions of fans out there to prove it.

I know some folks consider Project Runway beneath them.  And that’s ok because I love me a little mindless entertainment at times.  (I’m also a big “Drag Race” and “Chopped” fan). What may come as surprise to the PR Nay Sayers is that there is wisdom to be gathered from the show…little “keepin’ it real” tips I use in everyday life, like

MAKE IT WORK

Ok, even people who’ve never watched the show are familiar with this iconic encouragement by the great Tim Gunn.   As mentor to the young designers, it’s Tim’s job to help them figure out how to take hideous mistakes, unconventional materials and their own emotional meltdowns, and turn them into a Top Look within the allotted time.  (And there’s never enough time.)

“Make It Work” moments usually show up when a designer hits a brick wall.  Maybe they didn’t buy enough of the right fabric, or Heidi surprised them with the dreaded Black Bag “gotcha” of a Team Challenge (ooooh, they hate that one!)  Often times, Make It Work moments hit when a contestant is feeling overwhelmed.  From all accounts, it’s a very stressful competition – and that’s just dealing with all the bitchiness.  It’s not uncommon for a normally “together” designer to start falling apart at the seams under the pressure.   They want to give up, or run away in tears.

That’s when Tim, like everyone’s favorite Uncle, comes to the rescue!

Tim Gunn – Photo Credit: Unknown

Well groomed with exemplary taste and manners, Tim dishes out just the right amount of Tough Love and encouragement with equal panache.  He reminds us that many times, when we are feeling stuck, our best way forward is to simply accept what is, and then just get busy.  We might need to reevaluate our plan….think outside the lines…..pull the “issue” apart and start over.  Whatever it takes, we don’t give up.

Make It Work Moments can be some of our best, most enlightening experiences.  They are our chance to turn a train wreck into treasure.  I’m in the middle of a Make It Work moment myself, in fact.  After being surprised with an Unconventional Challenge I never saw coming last year, with all the drama, tears and stress that’s gone with it,  I’m doing a Life Redo. I’m editing.  I’m tearing things apart and reconstructing them.  I’m dreaming of the Big Win (in my case, staying cancer free and enjoying my life), and daily seeking new inspiration to keep moving forward.

And sure enough, there’s a voice is in my head.  One I’ve listened to and admired for years.  It’s saying to me:

Don’t lose yourself in the challenge!

Stay true to who you are! 

MAKE IT WORK!

Thanks, Uncle Tim… I’m going for it!

(This is the first installment in a series I’m writing called, “That’s Sew Smart or “Everything I Needed To Know About Life, I Learned From Project Runway.”)

Shall We Dance?

After-63

I feel like I’m doing the Cha-Cha these days.

2 steps forward , 1 (okay, maybe 2) steps back.

I think this is what might known as the “Post-Treatment/Get To Know Your New Normal” Phase.  I’m not completely done with treatment (after this morning, only 4 IVs to go!) but the Herceptin doesn’t hit me like the chemo.  At least, not that I can see.

On any given day I go from full speed to nap time, all within the span of about 8 hours.  And that’s just in my head.  My body tends to want to slow much sooner than that.

The New Normal.

Once I look for work in the mornings, I have more free time than I am used to.  Since booking from Facebook a week ago, my mind is freer as well (all those endless loop “conversations” in my head are gone! Whooya!)

Now, I spend as much time as I want doing things around the house, in the garden, in my office.  I was feeling pretty good about that until 3 days ago, when my daughter got laid off – this for the second time in 3 months.

…..”Goddamnitcutusafuckingbreakwillyou?”

……”I’msorryIdon’tmeanthatI’mjustscared.”

…….”Thankyouforallofyourblessingsandyourgrace.”

………”HowcanIbeofservicetoday?”

THAT is The New Normal, too, apparently.

Thank God for a God that isn’t as easily offended as are a goodly number of the humans I know.  Thank God for a Goddess who knows me – who knows my fullness, and who doesn’t judge me on 130 characters. Who knows what makes my heart-break, what betrays it, and what strengthens it (whether by the hand of another or my own).

When faced with things like illness, layoffs, deaths, separation –  what are my options here?  I can either sink to the bottom of the Victim Pool  and drown under the weight (I might have to take a number, though, ‘cuz it’s crowded down there).  That won’t help.

Or I can remind myself – and my girl – that every Life has challenges.  Always.  These things are as part of the natural cycle of life as births, marriages, promotions, and vibrant well-being.  They come and they go like cycles or seasons, and we don’t have to face them alone.   We get through these hard times together, pulling as a unit, with the Divine energizing and blessing our prayers, our efforts and our progress.

There are so many things a parent wants to do for their children, no matter how old they are.  I, for one, want to make their worlds safe for them.  SAFE is a big word for me this days. But life isn’t about being “safe”, and they are on their journeys as well with their own Souls and their own Soul Contracts.  I can’t “protect” them from the very thing Life may want to use to mature them.

After all, It’s  the wind and the rain that strengthens the tree.  Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls it the “hardening off”.   We develop things like patience, fortitude, courage, faith and grace during the storms of life.  We last.  We keep standing.

We learn to Rock the Cha-Cha.

Good thing I like to dance…

( the photo is of me and my son, dancing at his wedding last March. BEST. DANCE. EVER. )

Shifting Gears

Rams Head on UrnIt’s a New Moon in Aries today.  A Super New Moon at that.  The Elephant Journal has a great article out today on this new moon, “Trust in the Magic of New Beginnings.” 

In it, the author says, “Sometimes the best thing we can do is close our eyes, hope for the best and jump.

What a statement!

My natal moon is in Aries, as well as 4 other planets.  So I tend to take anything in Aries pretty seriously, especially when it seems that my life is reflecting something – mirroring – the archetypal energies in the sky. And I always take the moon seriously.  Which is why, for the last few days, I’ve been working on my Vision Board.  It’s been about 4 years since I made the last one, and it was time.

The inspiration was carried to me on some new energy flowing through my home over the last few days. It’s got a clean, life affirming vibe. Putting my Vision Board together just sort of ‘happened’, and it was fun and relaxing – not a task on my To Do list.  And even though there are some challenges going on, I find myself walking around with a huge grin my face at the oddest moments, like while vacuuming, or cooking.

I experienced huge shift earlier this week while out for a walk,  Feeling kind of heavy-hearted,  I asked Whoever Was Listening, “How to I shift out of this?” The answer came fast and super simple:  Gratitude.  Ah, of course!  I know all about the Magic of Gratitude so I started expressing thanks for the good things I could see – the beautiful day, the ability to walk, the Turkey Vultures.

And – just like that – SHIFT.

It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?  Back in August, after my 2nd or 3rd round of chemo, I began sewing again.  It was something enjoyable I could do throughout the day as my energy allowed.  And since I tend to pick simple things to work on (I sew a mean straight line), I decided to work on some market bags

My intention was to “try one” to see if I liked making it.   Before I knew it, I had made, sold and given away a bunch, and My Hope Totes was born.  If you’d like to see a portfolio (all the bags shown are sold), you can find them HERE.

I thought the name was catchy…a play on one of my favorite movies.  And HOPE, well, it’s been my Anchor Word for the past year –  right up there with TRUST.

When I am feeling HOPE and TRUST, my heart opens, like a lotus towards the sun.  I can feel when it’s happening, that unfurling.  It’s such a beautiful sensation, I’ve taken to cultivating it with much more intention these days.

Whether it’s the Spring, or my recent birthday, or the way Moon is aligned, my Heart Lotus is opening.  I sense it in odd moments while I’m putzing around my house.  My smile usually gives it away.  Embodying the message of HOPE is really what I feel I’m here for.  Like, HOPE is my purpose.  I know what it’s like to feel hopeless, and I know what it is like to have someone there – be it human, animal or event – at just the right time with just the right word to lift your spirits.

I experience that daily, and I want to be that for others.  I’m surrendered into the Service of Hope.  And, the more I give away, the more I feel it myself. Like Magic.