I first heard of Joseph Campbell in college, which was more than half a lifetime ago. His words resonated so deeply. But I’m not sure I understood them fully until recently. Bliss. To me, bliss is more like “flow,” as in Csikszentmihalyi’s research.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
It’s what happens to me when I am working on the press. Last week a friend brought by some ink he didn’t need any longer. Not standard letterpress ink, but what the heck. I’ve heard of using other types of ink so I wanted to give it a try.
The first few attempts were bad. I ran down my list of possible problems: not locking up the type correctly, not enough or too much packing, too much ink. Nothing corrected the bleeding I was seeing. I assumed the ink wasn’t going to work. And then I had a flash- what if the brayer isn’t getting the ink on the type well enough? I was using my proof press not my platen press to test this. Bingo! After I cleaned up the press and tried a different brayer, the sample print was much better. I fooled around a little more with paper thickness, and then called it a day. Hours of trying this and that had flown by. And in the end, I felt as satisfied and full as I have after a delicious meal and wine.
There’s something about little feet, especially the feet of grandchildren. I don’t often post personal photos here, but I couldn’t resist this one. We had gone out to dinner, sitting at an outside restaurant that worked perfectly for the kids. The boy is missing. He spent the evening digging in the mulch with the fork, perfect to occupy his time and give us a moment to down our food.
Two hectic, sometimes crazy weeks with my sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, my mother, my cousins from both my mom’s side and my dad’s, my 90-year-old uncle, and childhood friends. We gather in this place, Shelter Harbor, and make new memories each summer, while living a dream started by a great-grandmother at the turn of the century. Salt water, boats, and memories can do a lot to keep love alive and families together.
“Love your family. Spend time, be kind & serve one another. Make no room for regrets. Tomorrow is not promised & today is short.”
I know it’s because my heart is racing, or the breathing is shallow. I may not be consistent with yoga or meditation, but I’ve learned it’s my breath that I can always come back to.
And it works. Inhale slowly, hold, and exhale slowly. Within minutes, I can feel it.
Ok, that title is misleading. Not everyone can do what I did to rest. My husband had ankle replacement surgery recently, and I helped in his recovery (shampooing hair, preparing meals, walking the dog, cutting the grass, etc etc). It doesn’t sound restful, but it was.
What I did while he recuperated:
- thought about printing (this was actually helpful)
- planned card text
- took some online classes
- wrote to people, real snail mail
All of this put me in a calm, relaxed frame of mind. I can tell because this week things are picking up again, and I’m finding less time to get things– you know those important “things” done. I am going to be closing the Etsy shop for a while, planning, making new cards and getting ready for fall.
And then…we’ll jump back into holiday craziness and all that comes with owning a retail space during the shopping season. I think I’ll miss napping the most. But I do have that blue sofa in the shop……
I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.
I am not sure I always did this. But at some point in my life, I wanted to figure things out. Printer broken? Take it apart. Need a room networked? Run the cables.
So I am trying to do this with my printing as well. But, wow, does it take time. There are so many variables that can go wrong- ink, lock up, type, pressure, humidity in the air. Each time I get ready to print, I check the packing, the placement of the base or the type, and even the different paper styles I use.
People wonder why I even bother to do this. “You can print whatever you want digitally now,” they say. “This looks like too much work.”
Yes, but it’s fun work. It’s the figuring it out that I love. And when I get a print that is nearly perfect (because nothing in letterpress is perfect), I smile with satisfaction.
I typically print 5 or 6 cards at a time. The joy for me is in the process of creating, not printing hundreds of copies.
But I LOVE Harriet’s General store. And when I saw them post a quote I wanted to print, I asked about using it. To my surprise, they asked if they could order some. So, two days before my husband’s surgery that will keep me out of the shop for a while, I had something to occupy my time. A wholesale order of 48 cards for Harriet’s General.
I ended up having to print way too many extras as I was having a “shifting problem” that I never did identify. But, hey, the beauty of letterpress printing is the variation in type, right? I was happy with the ones I put in the mail yesterday–two colors, hand-inked, one at a time.
We dragged our tables, books, cards, some pottery, our chairs, and a huge tent to the river yesterday. You would think three women could handle that, but after 9 hours in the sun and some heavy lifting, we were spent. Still, we enjoyed seeing so many friends. It was a great day to show people what we do and who we are!
Well, I’m not searching, I’m happy.
But this post makes me think.
Doland recommends taking one day every week or every month to simply observe yourself:
It’s about tuning in to what you are doing, who you are doing it with and how it makes you feel. How much worry, stress, anger, joy or contentment do you experience on a given day?
Your happiness audit should assess not only major elements of your life, like your job and relationship, but also seemingly inconsequential aspects like how you occupy yourself on your commute and what you eat for lunch. Check in with how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. You’ll find that certain, perhaps surprising, things give you more pleasure than others, just as some detract.
The solution, according to Dolan, is to deliberately make it very easy to do the things that make us happy. Dolan believes we can structure our time and design our surroundings in such a way that we can quickly make a habit out of doing things that make us happy. These changes are small and incremental, but this is precisely why he thinks they work so well.
Ya, makes me think.