a flour sack quilt, and what january was for

January was for putting systems into place. I organized and tossed, in my pantry and fridge. I bought fresh and organic. I scoured vegetarian and vegan cookbooks. I tried so many new recipes I got cross-eyed, but found some keepers. Still want to write a book with lots of food in it. Made notes.
Routine has been my friend in January. Oh, how I have missed it. I decided very quickly that I still hate schedules, but I could embrace a routine. Just establishing these routines has taken most of my energy, it seems. But now I've got it down.
 I rise every weekday and head for the page while I'm fresh. I break at some point to begin(or join in making) the midday meal. I cook slowly and mindfully. We eat together. I go back to work. We walk the park. Evenings are for reading and knitting and being with friends and family. Who knew how soothing this could be?
I did. I've always known it. Lived it for a long time, then didn't for a long time, and now I have that chance again.

I've been thinking about how to measure success, or what that even means, when we look at our days and our work. How do YOU measure success? I would like to know.
I didn't make much headway on book two, if you measure success by numbers of new words or chapters or breakthroughs. If I measure by the yardstick of creating a safe, comfortable place to write, researching, going down blind alleys with a new chapter, and sticking with it no matter what... well, that's a big success. I think. My undermind is at work. I can't push the river. I can show up. Something like that.

Nevertheless, I feel vaguely like a failure. Maybe that's why I bought this old flour sack quilt from Kudzu this week. It has been my only indulgence this year, although the year is young. How lucky is it that Kudzu is practically next door to Your DeKalb Farmer's Market?
I found this quilt at the back of a booth at Kudzu, and I spent some time extracting it from its half-hidden corner. As soon as I touched it, I knew I had to have it. Its softness, suppleness, colors and patterns (do you see the cowboy fabric?), its hand-stitching. It was waiting there for me. So I took it home.

And now, on mornings when I rise before Jim, when the house is still cold and I have just turned on the heat, I crawl beneath this quilt with my tea or coffee and my story, which also waits for me so patiently.
I don't know just how to coax it along these days. Or maybe it's me that I need to cajole. Maybe I need to convince myself that I have all the systems I need in place right now, that I can let go of the need to organize everything else and turn my attentions to the task at hand: finishing book two.

I hope February is a month of pushing forward... whatever that means.

12 comments:

  1. My go-to vegetarian cookbooks are:

    Vegetarian Nights: Fresh From Hawaii, sadly out of print but a wonderful resource for super-healthy recipes: http://www.amazon.com/Vegetarian-Nights-Hawaii-Bonnie-Mandoe/dp/0890877122 The salad recipes in particular have been in my repertoire for years and are always wildly popular at parties. SALADS! At PARTIES!

    The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, which isn't new-wavey or hippie in any way, but rather awesome reciepes that don't happen to have meat or dairy. http://www.amazon.com/Mediterranean-Vegan-Kitchen-Donna-Klein/dp/1557883599/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328376189&sr=1-1

    Looking at your photo of kale makes me want kale. My favorite way to eat it is to saute it, then serve with simple tahini-garlic-lemon sauce. Yum!

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  2. Between my full-time day job and working at the bookstore, I don't have time for all the things that are important to me. I've struggled to find balance. I've discovered, however, that sometimes we just need to go with the flow, so to speak, and quit resisting. Sometimes life takes us down what initially seem to be rabbit holes, yet turn out to be corners of respite with pots of gold. My motto these days is to reach for joy in every moment, even when I'm doing things that I'd rather not do. I'm much more pleasant to be around, time goes by faster, and I seem attract more positive experiences. Therefore, success, to me, is maintaining an attitude of joy in every moment, and having the wisdom to know that judging myself or my circumstances keeps from that joy.

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  3. Hey, you. Thanks so much for these titles. I'll bet my library has them, and I'll look for 'em. I was a vegetarian until I got so thickly on the road. Then it was too hard to eat well. So now I'm mostly vegetarian, and have given up dairy because I feel better, and so. Always looking for new ways to cook. That's a massaged kale salad you're looking at. I love kale like this -- drizzle it with some lemon and olive oil (or a mashed avocado) and massage it with your hands/fingers for a few minutes. It wilts and becomes almost sweet. We're eating a lot of it right now.

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  4. Oh, and haha -- we're going to a party tonight and bring SALAD! To the PARTY! hee.

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  5. Jef, you're wise. I love this. One of my intentions for this year is to be present. Present for my life. Present to the work. Present to the day, to the moment. Finding joy in it is icing on the cake. Right now, It's so interesting to hear you talk about respite. I seem to need a lot of respite right now. It helps if I look at it that way (the way you mention) instead of thinking (in some deep recess) that I'm a slacker. My best self knows I'm not. All things in due time, I guess. Listening is a big part of what I want to do this year. Listening to myself and figuring out what I need. Haven't had time for that for a long time. I'm going to come visit. It's always good to hear from you. xoxo

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  6. My recipe for sucess + living as compassionately and with as much integrity as I can. There are other details of course, but them's the basics.

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  7. I think a nice quilt and a cup of tea can go a long way towards settling a person into writing. I hope they serve you well as you venture into February.

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  8. Thanks, y'all. I'm hoping you're right. xo

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  9. Hi Debbie,
    I just came across your blog and can relate so well to what you describe. I also recently gave myself a year (or two) to focus full time on writing. Finding balance has been hard. I also cook a lot and have re-read the Vogler book on the Hero's Journey to help me outline my current work in progress. Success, well, I think it is connected to writing. And that makes it so hard since we cannot force the process. I hurt myself frequently by trying to push the story out of me. So success is when I can let it go, be more patient, and live in peace with a day that I just spent revising or thinking about scenes. It can be hard. Thank you for sharing your journey so openly. I hope to meet you sometime in person. Best, Monika

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    1. Hi, Monika. Thanks for your kind words. Success is such a difficult word with so many meanings, depending on who you are the situation, I guess. I am feeling better about it all, as I read folks' comments and let go of preconceived notions about success, and as I let it be what it is and keep going. If that makes sense. Good luck to you!

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  10. Love everything about this post! The cooking, the January routine, the resolves, the quilt, Kudzu (my favorite place in all of Decatur, with the possible exception of Little Shop :-), the Farmer's Market, the writing process, Comfort and Ruby's posters in the background. "I can't push the river" reminds me of AAMilne's wonderful quote via Pooh: "Rivers know this. There is no hurry. We shall get there someday."

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    1. hey Deb! How's Vermont? I love that Milne quote! Thanks for sharing it. Some time we'll have to plan a meet-up at Kudzu. Wish they had a cafe... but they have everything else under the sun, so I'm not complaining. :>

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