I’m back, I think?

I didn’t intend for a lengthy hiatus, especially one of five and a half years, but shortly after that last post, a number of unplanned things came into being and here we are. Weirdly – very very weirdly – my life right now has some peculiar similarities to my life about the time I made that last post.

In early 2012, I’d been intentionally out of work for a while, to recover from doing horrible boring jobs and get my head back into a space where I could seriously try and move towards my desired career in architecture. In April, after a few months doing art and feeling better about life, I was starting to make plans: I was looking into possible employers in Portland, Maine; I also wanted to move out of the Boston area, you see. I’d never been happy there. Not long after that post, some really not-kidding Weird things started to happen and long story short I stopped being an atheist and became a pagan/polytheist/mystic. You know, “when the going gets weird the weird turn pro” except about the “pro” part, I don’t really get paid for this stuff. I mean in a traditional sense. Maybe in a traditional fairy tale sense I get paid but I digress. My plans to take “a few months off” in early 2012 turned into “a year” before I had steady work again, and during that time I realized that Oregon, where I grew up, was home and Maine wouldn’t cut it, and I needed to move back, so in early 2013 I moved to Portland, Oregon.

I also realized that architecture also wouldn’t cut it. For as long as I’d been pursuing that as a career, it was for the opportunity to do work that would be beneficial for the planet, and “sustainable architecture” looked like a good thing, right? Also for that long I’d had this small inner certainty that there was something not-quite-right about going into architecture, that it was missing something I needed. During grad school I realized that “sustainable” isn’t good enough; “regenerative” design is what is needed, and lots of it. Couldn’t find anything much in the realm of architecture like that, though – permaculture came up instead. I didn’t want to be a farmer or anything, though.

Anyway, after some divine intervention, I had to face up to architecture being wrong for me and start looking into landscape-related work. That’s where regenerative work can best be done.

Without any experience to draw on in that field, I had to look elsewhere for paying work, so I got yet-another boring, and slowly soul-crushing, job while doing landscape-ish things on a volunteer and hobby basis (I have so many plants now! it’s great!!). Walking away from design work was one of the most painful things I’ve ever done. Also, the day job was exhausting and I felt zero interest in doing much of any creative work for myself. I mean I built some shelving, and did a few devotional pieces of jewelry, but the energy/drive/desire for more, for anything like major projects, or even doing the same jewelry work I used to, just wasn’t there. I should’ve taken that as a more serious warning sign than I did, perhaps, but the slide down was very slow for a long time, until it became a terrible fall that had to be halted.

So, now: I left my horrible boring job earlier this year, extremely, nearly catastrophically burned out, exhausted, thinking I’d take “a few months” to recuperate while looking for work in something landscape related. I think it’s going to take about a year; I’m still not back to pre-burnout levels of energy. I finished up a permaculture course this spring, too. It was terrific, and doing the design work for our final project felt so good, I nearly cried. And I realized early this summer that while Oregon may be “home,” it is Central Oregon, the high desert, that is Home-where-my-heart-is, and I need to leave this lovely city.

I’ve had a number of weird “the past is repeating, kind of, only slightly less bad this time” experiences in the last 5 or 6 years. Kind of thought I might be done with that, but here we are again.

A couple months ago I had enough mental oomph back to start working through my mending. I decided to learn embroidery, too, make the mending prettier AND do some other projects. I started messing around with some old watercolor stuff, too. That gave me a bit more of an emotional boost, which made me more enthusiastic about other creative work, and life generally, which has been long overdue.

Here’s my first completed embroidery project, a needlebook:

Front cover with glass butterfly closure

Front inside cover and first page. I used a machine to hem the cover and cover lining, but the rest of the stitching was by hand.

Needlebook pages

Back cover of needlebook. Stitches are dreadfully uneven.

I intended to use a button as part of the closure, but none of the buttons I have looked right. I felt a pull to look through my long-ignored beads to find something toggle-like. I have lots of green beads, and a lot of leafy beads, but the leafy ones really didn’t work well with the embroidered design. I didn’t even know I had the little faceted glass butterfly – it was mixed in a bag with some other green glass – but it is perfect. It doesn’t draw attention away from the embroidery.

When I was going through the bead bins, I felt some real pangs about it – I suddenly missed doing the jewelry work. So I decided I would at least finish up some long-ignored projects, including finally making something from some focal beads I’ve had set aside for myself for years (and years). I also went through the drawers of disorganized stuff – prototypes, experiments, plus a few completed but imperfect (I guess?) earrings – and pulled out things good enough, or nearly good enough, to do things with.

One of the drawers of disaster, slightly less disastrous after I picked some things out.

Salvage from a drawer of disaster.

Newly completed works.

So I made some things! I finally made the earrings to match the red stone pendant I completed uhhhh let’s say 6 years ago. Every time I’ve worn it I wished I had the matching earrings already. Two of those leaf earrings just needed ear wires, but I made a mate to the more complex leafy thing, because I need them. Not that I wear a lot of jewelry but you know. The carved stone leaf had also been carefully wrapped up, to be turned into something for myself some day, and now it’s done. It needed a tiny red stone (red spinel) at its heart.

I’ve also started getting ready to take photos of older finished works I made originally to sell. It would be nice to see them go to good homes, and also to get some money on hand for things like future moving expenses. And, since I’ve little desire to find yet-another boring awful desk job, though I suspect I could do some on a very temporary basis without my body rebelling in a major way, I’ll probably make some new things, too. Maybe a couple pairs of the curvey brass leaf earrings. Those are fun.

I don’t know where this is all going to go, but it’s good to have my hands on these things again.

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