Squeezing time

For those of you with busy days and big lists of things to do, squeezing time is nothing new.

It is all because we want to have accomplished something by the end of the day that we resort to things like this. Finding 5 minute pockets of time to scribble some notes, dragging ourselves out of bed before sunrise to get an hour of creative work in before heading out to work, sitting at our desk during lunch to draw something.

This is making the most of our precious time everyday and with it comes an urgency that is often absent when you do find yourself in front of your blank canvas with time on your hands.

Do I have writers block when I know I have 25 minutes on a train? No, I have a list.

Do I have trouble coming up with the right image? No, I keep sketching until something clicks.

At the end of the day, I have created a little more than I had the day before. Over time, this will become something born of squeezed, stolen, seized and savored time.

For those of us with pursuits larger than our scheduled time slots, this is the best and only way to make a creative life.

Reintention

I am overjoyed that it is not my job to be responsible for creating new stuff. If it was up to me to invent the radio, stretch velveteen or the piano, the world would be a dark and terrible place. All the good stories have already been written. There is nothing new under the sun. According to Mark Twain, Adam was the only man who could say something good knowing nobody had said it before.

Which leaves everyone who has a creative soul a very different purpose. Yes, you are the sum of every response, thought, idea and emotion of your life walking this earth and the art you make is an expression of all of that. But the more noble reintention of your creative work is that of connecting other people, the rest of the world, with those stories that have already been told. How you tell those stories is your creative work, how you arrange, select, restitch and reshape a story as old as time but as true for people today as it was for Adam is your art whether that is a book, a dance or a mural that covers the side of a skyscraper.

Be a maestro by holding up a mirror.

Kits

There are a lot of people who have created an industry around preparing for disaster. They are the ones who always have extra batteries for their high beam flashlights and emergency kits in their cars. They have all of their papers filed neatly in a waterproof safebox, ready to grab at a moment’s notice. They watch the tides and track hurricane patterns. In the event of a natural catastrophe, they’re pretty OK.

There are less people concerned about preparing for success. As if success, once it happens, is something we don’t need to be concerned about. Every prodigy violinist that burns out, every literary darling who crashes and burns, every CEO who tumbles from the top is proof there should be some kind of preparation for success.

Here’s a few things you’ll need in your kit:

A sense of gratitude

A good friend or two who knew you when you were nobody

A commitment to get 8 hours of sleep every night no matter what

A willingness to look stupid

Batteries optional.

The Strange Life of a Handmade Gift

Sky’s gloves

This year, I have a new left hip. 

That is 2 pounds of titanium and porcelain settling into my body and taking its sweet time doing it.

Which means no driving or shopping for me this holiday season. Which means I get to pick up my knitting needles and make something for my loved ones.  The ones who will not be getting gift certificates or other impersonal yet so convenient online gifts simply because I am going to give them a truly personal and handmade present.

I am persistent, not stubborn which something I am accused of often. Making things by hand takes a lot of time, which I happen to have a lot of at the moment, but still, you could be doing other things. 

Even when the gifts I’ve made end up in strange places, I keep on knitting.

Take this text message conversation I had recently with my son for example:

Hey mom, how do I get bloodstains out the gloves

Why do I always get the weirdo questions? Soak them in either seltzer or white vinegar. And no more acts of violence while wearing mommy’s gloves!

Thanks!! And no promises

How are your gloves?

Haven’t washed them yet

But I still wear them everyday

WHAAAT????

I have finals! No time for glove cleaning 🙁

OK we’ll have a post final glove decontamination activity!

Franco stole my gloves and washed dishes with them

NOOOOOOO!!!!! Are they clean? The gloves, not the dishes

They better be

He only did it for groupme likes

What is that?

A way to measure how cool u are in the frat

He better win. I mean, we better win!

Don’t take his side

Mom!!! I lost the gloves!!! can you please make me another pair

And the saga oft he gloves continues…well, OK

Nevermind i found them!!!

Whew!!!!!

Could u make a pair for 2 of my friends? They really want a pair

Reeeaallllly? a pair of gloves knit by you Sky’s mommy?

They’re so comfy and everyone compliments them

Do I get a video of them wearing them saying how fabulous they are???

Of course!

Dealio! can i make them in a different color like blue?

Yes

Tell them I recommend they avoid bleeding and washing dishes with them

With great gloves comes great responsibilities

Amen and may the force be with you

How I Got the Most Amazing Holiday Gift that Everyone Like You Should be Giving

“I just lost my mind standing on line at the mall! And I don’t know what to get Dad, oh, and this year all of a sudden there’s a whole bunch of little kids on my list I have to be giving presents to…” wailed Daughter #1. Somehow, this didn’t sound like holiday cheer to me. Unless you are a retailer, this is not the most wonderful time of the year for most gift shoppers I know.

“I know, why don’t you just go hundreds of dollars that you don’t have to get things that insure you won’t be worried people think you are clueless and cheap. Makes as much sense as eggnog. Who drinks that stuff?” I said. She didn’t appreciate that but she didn’t fight me on it either.

What is the best gift you can give someone, really? Big clue, it is not made up of packaged molecules that takes up space in your house or makes a big hole in your wallet.

We are a country with a $38 billion self storage system which is totally insane when you think about it. We actually own more things than we can stuff in our closets so… instead of not having so much stuff, we’ll cheerfully fork over money to store everything in an outside closet in some building in Brooklyn where all we have to do is get in the car, drive over, look for parking and put more stuff in our unit. To declutter our home and make room for more incoming stuff.

And we do this like it’s normal.

Well, dear friends, it is not normal. If you don’t have room for something in your life, you don’t need it. Unless you are willing to make room for it by getting rid of something else you really, really don’t need. And don’t think you will make this better by giving that person with the overflowing storage unit even more molecules.

I also feel this way about the exchange of imagination and wonder which for me and many other people who become children at this time of year, becomes the entire reason to celebrate a season of lights. 

I want magic. 

I want something that makes me feel like there will be something for me that takes my breath away, that is instant happiness, that could be for no one else but me.

And I got exactly what will do all of that, and more.

What is that?

I stopped my 3 kids who had their fingers poised over the submit button on their phones, ready to dump a couple of bucks from their Venmo accounts into my Amazon account and call their holiday shopping for their mom – DONE!

Didn’t I bring you guys up better than that? That is not anything I consider close to a thoughtful gift. 

“I know exactly what I want and it will not cost you a penny,” I said. 

“Really?” 

“Absolutely. But it will cost you in time, imagination and spending some time with each other.” 

“What I want for Christmas is a 3 minute video of you 3 singing an original cover that you will write together, of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ with the gifts only I would like in the lyrics,” I said. “To have that would mean the world to me.”

My son smiled. “I think that is a great idea!” he said. “And we can play it on Christmas – and watch it next year too.”

My turn to smile. Yes, I did bring them up better than I thought.

Get off that ridiculous line at the mall with the rest of the world and give someone you love something of yourself. Something that you can share together. Something that will mean something.