… and I found that entirely annoying. And also a little extra depressing.
It was a coincidence. I’ve always been more comfortable with the idea of a very low-key birthday celebration — dinner at home with my husband and a special dessert — so my birthdays don’t come loaded with expectations that get dashed. That wasn’t it.
I simply woke up yesterday with sour thoughts in my head.
I’d had big plans (all week!) to indulge in a sticky bun for breakfast. I was even talking it up to friends the night before. Thing is, I woke up on my birthday, caught a glimpse of myself, and all I saw was this girl that did not need to be eating a sticky bun. Obviously those negative thoughts had already dug themselves in and this was just the first sign of them. But that moment was also what helped set off a long day of me moving around in the soup of whatever.
Things that are real
» By the end of the day I felt truly warmed by all the people who wished me a happy birthday. But as I saw those wishes coming in, I felt overwhelmed by them. “But I’m depressed! Why are you being so nice to me?!”
» I had to force myself to treat myself to a take-out lunch (fish sandwich and fries — I never order stuff like that, but it always looks delicious). I had to overcome my glop-induced urge to just eat toast, and instead recognize that I could muster the fifteen minutes it would take to call in the order and pick it up.
» I still made myself an afternoon coffee, with no doubt that that was exactly what I would do. Coffee must be genuinely magical.
Things that are really good
Happy ending No. 1: I didn’t just sit back and take it. I’ve dealt with sad days for, oh gosh, almost twenty years now. Used to be I didn’t know what to do with them, so they would last days. I slowly moved toward what has become a tried-and-true solution: sleeping them away. And actually, detaching my awareness in that way would help me pass the time that it naturally took for those thoughts to evaporate — which they always have.
Yesterday though — maybe because it was my birthday and I’d had plans, damnit — I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to sew my new tote bag. So I spent ten hours (for the record, probably about eight hours longer than necessary, on a good day) slowly constructing myself a tote bag for my birthday.
I watched some mediocre-to-good television: Under the Dome. Between occasional cliche, shallow lines, it has somewhat interesting characters involved in a mysterious plot and also emotional drama and I was depressed so OF COURSE I CRIED … while I was sewing. Safety first: I put down the shears when I got blurry-eyed.
Thing is, I worked all the damn day. I even saw mistakes I’d made and wasn’t undone by them. I just picked out the stitches and started over.
By the end, I had a finished bag that looks pretty good. Oh, except I will be picking it entirely apart to reconstruct it (as an aside, it’s amazing that every single sewing project I’ve ever done makes me better but also never fails to teach me something else I should know — like that pocket placement can affect how a bag hangs once those pockets are full; or that interfacing weight is highly important, especially if you start with a light fabric.)
Happy ending No. 2: I woke up today full of ideas. Really, these terrible thoughts go away almost by themselves.
And this morning — at four in the morning, to be precise — I woke up with wide eyes and determined. There are things on my life list and, as opposed to yesterday, I felt empowered to do them.
The most sparking thought that crossed my mind was “These are things I want in my life, and they’re going to take work.”
There’s no getting away from the true fact that things worth doing are worth working for. Not just hoping for or doing when the mood is just right and the weather cooperates. But worth carving out space for and practicing over and over again and drafting, redrafting, editing, starting all over.
These are the things I want in my life, and these are all things I will have to work at:
» Writing. I’ve been writing for as long as I’ve been dealing with sad days (coincidence?!??). Almost twenty years. Writing — even on a keyboard and into a white screen — is visceral for me and it always has been. I can dig into it; it digs into me. My life has recently become more busy for all the right reasons — baby on the way, design projects, home projects — and writing to this space has fallen to the bottom of the list. Maybe the purpose of this space has to change, or maybe it’ll just take more story-planning.
Regardless, I’d like to spend more time back here. I like it, and I like you.
» Making. Yesterday’s sewing, as tedious as it became, was satisfying in the end. It’s the same satisfaction I got when I had my little baking business and I went into the kitchen with experiments on my mind and a reason to work with my hands. Making, for me, seems to be about starting with a plan and questions, with a hope for discovery. I’ve started a little wishlist of courses on Craftsy. I still have plenty of baby things to make from The List. I’m actually looking forward to picking apart my new tote and seeing if the way I put it back together makes it better-constructed.
I have a shelf full of fabrics that need to be used. I wonder if I can find a use for every single one …
» Making a home. I love to organize, but that’s about as much of homemaking as I naturally enjoy. The cleaning? The meal-planning? The cooking, even? That’s a little more work for me. But truth be told, I want to be the one doing that work. Why? I don’t quite understand it. I just do.
It means I’ll have to figure out how to incorporate all those things into today that I’d rather put off until later.
» Fit, strong, healthy. Does every woman carry around an image of some other version of herself that seems better? Or maybe this is every human person? There’s something to be said for accepting the shapes and ways you are. There is also something to be said for building a healthy life that makes you the strongest version of yourself there is. More than anything, that has become the focus of my alternate-Lindsay-daydreams. So far, I’ve been trapped in knowing the things to do but not knowing how to consistently wrap them into my daily life.
What else can I say but that I’ll try harder? … I’ll try harder.
» Lovely, lovely people. Patrick ran into the bakery last night to grab us birthday treats. I watched from the car as he chatted with one of my regular customers (I introduce Patrick to all my regulars when I get the chance). In the pitch black of night, looking into that bright warm scene and seeing that lovely woman make friendly conversation with my husband, it was one of the moments that turned me back onto happy thinking. I realized how lucky I am to work the job I do, meeting good people and getting to catch up with them every day. And this little town is full of good men and women that I want to know better, have at my home, bake for, sew for, even.
Introvert, meet your future. Meet a lifetime of saying yes when it feels so much easier to say no, thank you.
Happy birthday to me
Thirty-two is going to be amazing. Little baby coming. Family getting started on its next phase. House-fixing and homemaking. Who knows what else. Except I do know — all of these things that I will work for.