Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Fast Break for Happiness

What to do the week after you decide a long-term foster child has problems too big for you? Listen to online Buddhist talks and use her empty bedroom to lay out a wedding quilt:

I am sorry if that sound crass. I know you all were rooting for us. But when a person heaps negativity on you, day after day, until it's hard to get out of the bed in the morning, you can be pretty sure that you're reflecting some of it back at her, not to mention out in the world. If it helps you to feel more charitably toward me, she had a soft landing, with someone local for whom she is still salt or leaven and not rocks in the pockets. In other words, they're honeymooning. It was a clean turnover: no harm, no foul.

"Clean" and modern is the feeling I wanted this quilt to have. I am so happy for the wedding couple. He is the late bloomer of my closest cousin's four sons, and still has the sweet, slightly awkward, puppy-dog appeal he's had since he was a tyke. Not knowing much about the couple's aesthetic tastes, I went with primaries + black and white, and the ever-popular chevron pattern.

("Ever"? Well, note that fads hit the Midwest later than they do the coasts. I give this chevron fad at least two more years, by which time the couple might have the down comforter they really want. Perhaps this can be their honeymoon quilt!)

The Buddhist talk I enjoyed so much was recommended by the groom's mother, who makes Buddhism her practice. One of its themes is how happiness is multiplicative, how it propagates from one person to another through the mysteries of oxytocin, and nothing is lost. So, lo and behold, while feeling some joy for my reclaimed life, last night it multiplied, as I attended a wonderful friend's 60th birthday party, and connected happily with his grown son and daughter, who are doing very well. The son is getting married in August.

And my stepson gets married in June.

So really, that's a whole lot of big bed quilts to make, and a whole lot of good fortune and happiness to meditate upon. My desire for connection is strong, and I need not be shy. Though I have no biological --and so far, no legally adopted--children of my own, I need not feel alone. I can step forward and say, "I share your joy. Thank you for sharing it with me."

There are plenty of people to love.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Finish!

The Shy DNA quilt was finished last night. I hand-sewed the binding while watching a very fine finish, Iowa State University vs. Baylor (we'll ignore the Buckeye finish).

I had fun with the free-motion quilting. I did it with a flourish.

(as I FMQ'ed, I kept thinking of Spencerian penmanship, which used to be taught by tutors to all the respectable teens of middle-class society. A visiting card needed such flourishes (thank you Ames Historical Society)):

That was their version of texting.
And these were their emoticons:

This post, my 40th, is a finish, if not the finish of the blog. Quite obviously my life has become consumed with things other than detaching from my stash. I like to write about my life, but a certain inhabitant of that life deserves more privacy. So I'm deleting the blog and searching out other ways of sharing my life.

Perhaps I'll revive that old-fashioned practice of visiting!

By the way, I've made progress on my project. Here is my stash now. It's so much more under control:

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Attachment, Detachment

These past few weeks have seen successive waves of mental health diagnostics on B., for whom something is clearly quite wrong, and the news just keeps getting worse. Other people's mental illness is a humbling thing. Unless she acknowledges that she needs help, I am powerless.

With such a child, it's a tricky tightrope between attachment and detachment. Empathy with one in crisis takes its toll. Doubly so, when one is receiving the blame for the crisis itself (I am the reason her boyfriend broke up with her; I am the reason she was called awful names at school.) This is the voice of her attachment disorder, RAD (etymology buffs will recognize the brilliance of this abbreviation). So, rather than a hug in her distress, soothing words and blandishments of love, she wants things (armor for the battle at school): "if I loved her we'd go shopping now." This feels like soulless manipulation. I can't do it.

Compulsive Shopping Disorder is a bona-fide illness in DSM-V.
For weeks, through the preparation for her permanency court hearing, through visits and team meetings with social workers, medical appointments and therapy sessions, emails and phone calls with school personnel, B. has colonized my waking hours. All the help in the world provides no answers, only more to think about. Yesterday, I decided to detach a little. Change the subject. Breathe.

I visited the community radio station where my opinions and insights are respected, saw my dear colleagues, and got a small, very do-able assignment.

I went to my yoga studio, where I haven't been for 2 months. I took with me the yoga block that B. had stabbed with a carving knife:

Today, I will sew.

I am working on a quilt by Iowa quilter Pat Speth from her book Nickel Quilts. The design, called Paducah Nine-Patch, is featured on the cover photo of the book.

I had to adapt the pattern a little (here's the original size block, a bit "wee" for my project timeline, those smallest patches finish at 1 inch):

Here's how far I've gotten (the smallest patches finish at 1 1/4 inches. It makes a difference!):

I am also FMQ-ing the Shy DNA quilt for a "FOB" (Friend of B.'s), who had a birthday recently (FOBs are in short supply these days).

As I read this once before posting, I feel my chest constricting. May the rhythm of the needle and the floating foot restore some ease to life.