It’s the end of the year, and I get introspective around this time.
I also get sad, but that’s another story.
When I was younger, I refused to get sad. I was a Pollyanna girl, sure that everything would turn out all right in the end. “I’m fine,” is our family mantra, and I lived that way a long, long time.
But I’ve been in a lost period for the last few years, trying to figure out who I am and what I want to be when I grow up. In the process, I’ve changed from Pollyanna to Eeyore. I’ve been whiny, critical, and gloomy, sure the next plane will crash or my business will fail.
Sometimes we’ll never figure out what sends us spiraling. But now, five years later, I’m grateful to be seeing the light. I love working on my presses, sharing time with my young students, and helping to run Water Street Studio. The other day, one of my students stopped by with a gift (pictured above). I was touched he thought to create a framed set of type, including the word “write” and my initials. Seriously, touched.
These days, I’ve learned how little I really can control in my life. But giving in to that helps me appreciate everything else so much more. Now I say, “What’s the worst that can happen?” And the answer is usually something I can live with.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be a Pollyanna again. Wedged where I am feels like a good fit-a little vulnerable, a little realistic, and a lot hopeful.
All righty, then. I have some wood type waiting for me, and my hands are too clean. Back to work.
I was bemoaning to a friend in the shop yesterday that I hate “selling.”
“You have to yell this time of year to be heard,” he said.
I wonder. What happens to our minds in all of this loud noise? Can we filter?
I dislike filling the social media I handle with pleas for people to come see us (even though I love what we do). This time of year is crazy. Everyone wants to get their message out there. And dealing with so many accounts (I volunteer with two organizations), I am proud that I’ve only put the wrong photo on the wrong social media twice in the last week. Not bad, eh?
Seth Godin says, “the people who care are the people who will listen.” So, friends, here you are if you care to listen :)
In the meantime, I’m going back to my press for a while.
and my personal one!
I’ve been having a hard time writing lately. My dreams are of presses and type, my spare moments have me reading instead of composing. The words roll around in my head. Until they decide to take some shape, I will ignore the guilt.
Besides artist and author, Nin was also a publishing entrepreneur. In January 1942, she sets up her own small press in a loft on Macdougal Street, and soon set out to print and self-publish a new edition of her third book, Winter of Artifice, teaching herself typesetting and doing most of the manual work herself.
You pit your faculties against concrete problems. The victories are concrete, definable, touchable. A page of perfect printing. You can touch the page you wrote. We exult in what we master and discover. Instead of using one’s energy in a void, against frustrations, in anger against publishers, I use it on the press, type, paper, a source of energy. Solving problems, technical, mechanical problems. Which can be solved.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with
your old nonsense.
This day is all that is
good and fair.
It is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on yesterdays.
Worst meditation ever, as if to prove to me that everything is, indeed, a practice.
Saturday I visited Natalie Kay for another lesson in setting type. It was so helpful–and I realized how much I’d forgotten. And how much I still need to buy–more leading, more spacers, more type. Sigh. $$
But I love this…..
I am in the second week of a 6-week meditation class with Bill Brooks. I’ve been working through meditation on my own (books, friends, podcasts), but I wanted something face-to-face with instruction.
Last night’s talk about our thoughts–and how our brain works–was fascinating. Bill shared ways of focusing and “coming back to the breath” when our minds wander. I know now that mediation is effective for many reasons, and I’ve seen proof in myself. Learning the practice reminds me of running. I needed to start with running for 5 minutes, then 15, and on–until I managed to run a half-marathon. It took time and effort.
So does meditation.
Early on I found two minutes of sitting still hard. Now I can do 30 minutes without fidgeting too much:) Yesterday as I set lines of type, a process that can be tedious, I found myself in a zen state of bliss. Hmmm, perhaps all this effort at quieting the mind is finally working.
Isn’t it funny how days of wonderful moments can be derailed by a comment directed at the heart of what we do? Even painting our door bright purple didn’t help me feel better.
I’m trying to shake it off and not take it personally– because it wasn’t intended to be. So I’ll continue to do what I believe is important. We can’t be all things to all people.
Practice letting things be. That doesn’t mean you can’t actively work to create a different tomorrow. It just means you make peace with the moment as it is, without worrying that something’s wrong with you or your life, and then operate from a place of acceptance. Lori Deschene
Now, back to the door.
I haven’t talked much here about my meditation practice. I started more than a year ago, working to still my mind and provide space for quiet.
A kind friend started me with Sharon Salzberg, which helped quite a bit. Then I moved to group meditation, online practice, and –then I stopped. Yeah, I’m a quitter from way back. But I recently read 10% Happier by Dan Harris, and I realized I missed those quiet moments. Tonight, David and I attended our church’s mediation practice. First we did 10 minutes and then 15. Let me tell you, that’s a long time.
But finally, I was able to calm down and sit. I’m so glad I participated.
Last night, our studio hosted a local authors’ reading. I loved hearing the various styles. And we had a full house. We haven’t had a physical place to encourage writers to gather. I’m hoping this grows in manageable ways so we can continue to be a home for like-minded people.
Finally, my press. She’s beautiful. I’ve managed to print a couple of practice things, but this week I should be able to set up a time to produce some cards and posters. I love the ink–getting my hands dirty–and creating. Ah, letterpress.