Posted in "Daily" pages Life

Beginnings

April 27, 2013 - 9:13 am

Morning view

Mornings, for me at least, breed routines. And in the spirit of “begin as I mean to go on,” I’ve been contemplating mine, and thinking what I wish to keep, discard, and add to it.

Life has changed, drastically. I got quiet here, thinking it out in private writing, with friends, and just giving time where time was needed. 

For the second year in a row I was laid off in March, shortly after the whirlwind of the Visionaries retreat and Madrona. I have been wanting to set off on a self-employed path for years, making a living from my fiber arts skills, but not trusting that there was enough of a living there to be made, given my obligations. I remain unsure, but have become more aware that there isn’t a sure path in tech for me, either. The market for PM’s is drying up, becoming commoditized into consulting houses, and generally going away. I have a career shift in front of me no matter what path I choose.

Fortunately I’ve been quite miserly since I moved to Seattle, so I have the savings to sustain me through a change. I had intended to have them as a launching pad for my “downshift” career into fiber, and hadn’t planned to start that until Z was on his own. But life is not proceeding to plan, so I adapt.

I am choosing to make a start on a fiber career, but not in knitting pattern design or teaching at knitting events, at least not primarily. I have two tribes now, my knitters and spinners who are closest to my heart, and my makers who are closer to my spirit. I am a fiberista and a maker. There are enough knitwear designers. I will do some of that because it’s what I am, but I see a greater need for my creativity in bringing an awareness of textiles to the makers. 

I’m still watching job boards and if something amazing comes up I’ll take a “regular” job again, but I’m going to try damned hard not to “Settle.” I’m also letting folks know I’m available to individuals and small businesses as a freelance project manager. If you think you could benefit from a couple hours of talking to someone who is good at understanding a goal and helping people organize their efforts to accomplish it, please reach out. I promise my rates will be very reasonable, especially right now when I’m living on savings. Selling you an afternoon of project management for a week’s groceries sounds like a great deal to me just at the moment!

I have started a new website under the title Hack Your Clothes. Hit the link if you would like to read the FAQ. There’s a blog entry there as well, but I’m going to pull that down and move it over to the Jennigma archives; I want the content at Hack Your Clothes to be spare and focused, not blogish.

Essentially, textiles are one of the earliest technologies our species developed, starting back there with fire and language. And yet, all my smart inquisitive hacker friends who disparage people who don’t know how the electronic and mechanical objects in their environment operate take their clothes completely for granted. They perhaps spout the occasional marketing message about some fiber in their technical clothes or clumsily add blinkenlites to a ready-made garment, but have no idea how to modify clothes to fit them better, fix a ripped up backpack, or replicate a beloved and much battered shirt or pair of pants. I would like to change that.

I’m beginning a crusade to bring knowledge of textile technologies to the hacker community. So far the reception locally has been overwhelmingly positive. I have a tutorial on replicating a tee shirt on deck to be released, pending developing the InDesign skills I need to do a decent job at laying it out. The next tutorial will be on making a sloper from measurements, and then a series of comparisons to explain ease based on the differences between the two resulting patterns. I am brimming with ideas and possibilities for what comes next after that. I am envisioning selling tutorials on the model of knitwear designs, for 5 – 10$ each, with “books” that are collections of related tutorials, and doing some touring to support and promote the tutorials. I know there’s a decent living in this.

At the same time, I’ve started exploring the limits of my knitting machine. I’ve gotten connected with the local arts community, and am making sculptural pieces from machine knitted magnet wire.  I’m turning out knitted garments at an almost alarming pace. I can easily make a sweater in an afternoon, or a pair of socks in an hour. This will speed up my knitwear designing tremendously. I’ve started sketching zentangles every day at http://jenntangles.tumblr.com/

I’m enjoying the explosive release of my creativity, and feeding it actively, as art for art’s sake, and because it nourishes my spirit. This is NOT what I intend to market as a commodity, but what I will create because I love it.  

In support of both Hack Your Clothes and my more free-form creative efforts I’ve bought into the Adobe Cloud, purchased a midrange Wacom tablet, and replaced my old monitor. The last was an unplanned purchase; I turned it on yesterday having not really used it for the better part of a year to find the image was distorted and flickering. It wasn’t just the cable, and it looked the same when connected to two different computers, so it had to go. I bought an ASUS PA248Q IPS monitor on closeout at Fry’s last night after much frantic research, and wow. This may be the electronic gizmo that makes the most difference in my ability to express myself creatively in pixels and print. The color. The sharpness. The nifty pop-up grid helping with alignment and measurement on screen in any application. Wow, just wow. Good tools are so necessary.

I have lots of beginnings in my life right now, but like Shabbat, which is both the most sacred and most frequent Jewish holiday, I think mornings are the most important beginnings precisely because they are a new chance every day to begin. I am focusing first on starting my days well, so that I can be creative and productive. 

Up at 6am.

This is just who I am. It’s actually inconvenient, in a way, because my hackerspace where my tools are doesn’t open til noon, and really starts hopping about 9pm when I should be heading home to get to bed if I want 8hrs of sleep. I will be toddling off to bed like a child worried I will miss the good things. I will need to responsibly parent myself in this- and there will be afternoon naps, I’m certain. But 6am has been my normal wake-up hour for my entire adult life. I can lay in bed later, I can get up earlier, but 6 is what I always return to. If I’m reasonably well rested that’s when I awake naturally every day. So.

Start the tea pot and putter a bit.

I’m actively banishing clutter and organizing our tiny space to be more supportive of both creativity and rest. I’m going through everything on the first floor of the house and determining if it’s useful or beautiful. If not, it leaves the house. If so, it needs to fit comfortably in a place. Things that won’t fit on the first floor are going into semi-storage in the basement. There’s a big pile developing down there for me to organize.  The basement is as large as the first floor. It is well lit and comfortable. Half is utility space- laundry, heater, tools, workbench, and storage.  The other half is a rec room with couch, tv, exercise equipment, and workout mirror, and a third space by the door that opens to the outdoors I’ve reimagined as a library, with comfy chairs and bookshelves. 

Meditate.

Just 5 minutes. Sit and be still in body and mind. Let my tea cool.

Write.

This is going to be blogging, generally, going forward, with a side of daily task list making. I want to share my journey, even though that’s a bit uncomfortable for me. I far prefer living like the wizard Oz, hiding the work behind a curtain and only sharing the finished products and cleaned up flashy bits, but I think it will be good for me and for others if I bring the mechanics of ordering my days out into the light. So. I’ll drink my tea and clatter away here at the dining room table, looking out over Elliot Bay and the city.

Exercise.

This isn’t a big long workout, just the strengthening and stretching I need at minimum to keep my body moving comfortably. I’ve found an ap, PT Timer, which I’ve programmed with the things I want to do every day. It starts with some favorite limbering up yoga poses, then some neck and shoulder stretches for ongoing management of my old neck injury, some strengthening exercises to manage my more recent knee injury, and some core exercises, ending with wall sits.  Ow.  It’s about a 20 minute routine. It may start with some extra free form yoga or expand from the 20 minutes, but those exercises are necessary.

Breakfast.

Hot and healthy, every day. Generally oatmeal and pre-cooked turkey sausage. For years I have made a vat of oatmeal with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of salt and some brown sugar every other week or so and put it up in single serving containers. I pull out the container, nuke it, sometimes add some fruit, nuts, or milk for variety. Some days I cook a one-off meal like french toast with bacon and fresh fruit, chocolate chip pumpkin bread, pancakes, waffles, etc. Generally that only happens on weekends, as relief from the monotony of oatmeal and sausages. Most of these exceptional breakfasts have been shared in recipes in the past here on the blog.

Shower.

This is the one thing that doesn’t have a firmly fixed place in the routine. Sometimes I shower at night and skip it in the morning. Sometimes I wake up sweaty and want a shower Right Now. Sometimes it’s after exercise. Generally it’s after breakfast. 

That’s it. After breakfast it’s no longer “morning,” and I’m not setting a fixed daily routine for the rest of the day. I need to let my days flex around the tasks I have to accomplish. I’ll be sharing goals here and progress against them. Most of what I described above has been my routine for years, but it hasn’t always been ordered and formalized. Bits drift in and out.

The job at Archer had more going out than coming in, because I had to be online at 6 – 6:30 talking to my Polish developers, and then at the office by 9. In the two weeks since that ended I’ve bounced back to the rut of my older habits, which is generally a good thing. I want to take active steps to establish what I need to be well, body, mind, and spirit. So. 

I’m not setting durations for these activities. I’m usually done by 7, and virtually always done by 8. Today the puttering was 45 minutes and the writing has been almost an hour, so it’s 9:30 and I still haven’t made it to exercise. That’s ok. I have a routine that can be completed in an hour, or can flex to allow what is needed. The important bit is the sequence and the flow from one to the next. Wake-up. Start tea. Putter. Meditate. Write and drink tea. Exercise. Eat. Perform ablutions somewhere in there. This is the best order of operations for me. 

My goal is to move from one thing to another without sinking into the couch and getting sucked into knitting in front of the tv, or some other sort of puttering. Those activities are fine as a break in the afternoon or in the evenings when I need some unfocused time to rest; I have in the past fallen into the trap of driving myself every moment of every day and I know well that’s not a healthy way to be. But mornings are best for me when they are focused and active.

And so I begin. Again. Every day. And now I’ll be sharing my daily beginnings with you, gentle readers. 

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