Today I declared a personal snow day and canceled all three of my appointments. They were friendly visits anyway, and we’ll all see each other soon. Instead of driving around and dealing with the traffic and weather, I stayed home. Rich made bread, which means that the house was warm and smelled soooo good for several hours this morning.
Favorite thing: Honey Girl and her warm fuzzy greetings every morning.
Favorite things: exercise and meditation. I got to catch up with my Morning Routine which felt restorative.
Favorite thing: I organized all the fabric in my studio (aka the guest bedroom) and took stock of the inventory. Wrote stuff down. That felt good.
Favorite thing: I moved forward on the three pillows I’m finishing this week, plus the quilt. Starting to feel like a real artisan.
Favorite things: There are many things in these pictures to love:
- an adorable French postcard now messed up by living in the kitchen but that makes it even more precious
- a pepper mill by the French brand Pylones (a “must” whenever you’re in Paris, n’est-ce pas? soo cute!)
- a beautiful round loaf of Rich’s crusty French bread,
- the “fabricard” I created to accompany the Limited Edition Literary Pillow. This one accompanies No. 1, The Ladies’ Paradise, by Zola. The citations will zero in on key moments in the book to give readers a satisfying sense of what the book is about.
- Pillows that I am working on, with my sturdy 1928 White Rotary sewing machine! The full repertoire of Honey Girl Books and Gifts is due Friday December 15, for the SPARK class graduation at Saint Mary’s College. I’m almost ready. Snow days are helpful. And being on winter break from teaching too.
Speaking of which, the website for my new business, Honey Girl Books and Gifts, is now available! https://www.honeygirlbooks.com/
It’s not quite “official start” ready yet, because the purchase function and A.V. stuff aren’t plugged in yet, but you can email me at email@example.com if you want to get a jump on the crowds! I’ll accept pre-orders from readers of this blog.
Now back to the contemplation of favorite things.
As I was moving around in silence this morning, enjoying the light snow outside and the cozy sounds of this old house, and Rich and Honey Girl moving around downstairs, I suddenly felt a Zen sense of detached observation.
Watching the quick industrious ways my mind and hands were working together, I thought of an article read in last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. It is one of the most startling and useful metaphors for how the mind works (along with William James, to whom we will return one day), that I have ever seen. And, as a professor of literature for 30+ years, I’ve seen a lot! It made me feel serene, and affirmed more than ever the new path I’m on. Change, physical vitality, and hope: that’s what is making me feel so young these days.
Citing the work of Sigmund Freud to explain the antecedents of Oliver Sacks’s discoveries, the reviewer Nicole Krauss writes, “Freud wrote that he had come to explain psychoneuroses ‘by supposing that this translation has not taken place in the case of some of the material.’ In other words, that our psychological health depends on our ability to constantly revise and refashion memory to allow for growth and change, and the absence of this process–the stagnation of a memory, the brain’s treatment of it as something fixed–leads to pathology.”
“This is an extraordinary insight,” continues Krauss, one that helped to establish our understanding of the self as flexible instead of static, and our sense of the past as an imaginative reconstruction, ever evolving, both of which make therapy possible.”
The reviewer notes rightly that Oliver Sacks, as a neurologist and brilliant writer, “deepened our understanding of the dynamic, creative abilities of the brain by uncovering, again and again, the unusual ways the impaired brain may deal with its handicaps, compensating in ingenious ways, or by creating plausible explanations for the nonsensical, thus preserving a form of coherence, however subjective. ” [Sounds like some of Sartre’s characters.]
As Krauss explains, Sacks’s work is particularly powerful for young writers, who suddenly are able to see how “for the brain, the coherence that narrative forges is paramount to an accurate account of reality.”
I agree with Krauss that narrative is a primary human activity, without which we waste away. That is what my narrative quilts are all about!
See Jane E. Brody’s piece on loneliness in today’s New York Times. After reading that, I reflected on 1) how lonely I used to feel last year, and 2) what has made me feel better. Here are the things I am grateful for: 1) reading Byron Katie and learning to do “the work” on the thoughts that come into my head; 2) learning to practice T’ai Chi and meditation daily; 3) sewing; and 4) being able to channel my creativity into things I love, instead of trying to please external censors. As a businesswoman, I will see if there are any buyers out there. As they say, Some Will, Some Won’t, So What. Surely there is some lonely soul out there, or a grandma or a lover, who would like to give one of my soft and lustrous goods to a beloved?
At any rate, I don’t have to worry about some jerk at Stanford any more.
I wrote to Jane Brody, actually, with a compliment on how her article made me realize things, and an offer. I proposed a complimentary quilt from my new business, to see if she might agree that it has therapeutic effects. We’ll see if she replies!
In the meantime, it appears that we weavers of meaning, artists of cloth, paper and pen, are all entirely “normal.” Whatever that is.