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Sandra Tayler's Journal

responsible woman

A cobble by itself is just a small stone, but when many of them lay together they create a path . My life is made up of many discrete parts. I have to find ways to fit them all into place so that I can continue to journey where I desire to go. This journal records some of the cobbles that create my path.

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December 6th, 2016

Stories and Reading Aloud

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The house is quiet and feels calm in this hour before everyone goes to sleep. Bedtime used to be the most energy intensive part of my day as I attempted to convince small children that they should lay still long enough for sleep to arrive. I spent years laying down with kids, sitting in the room with kids, or sitting out in the hallway being door guardian. None of those things are required anymore. I do have to remind my teenagers about bedtime, but mostly they accomplish it on their own. On the whole, I like this stage of life better. Bedtime was so hard, particularly because it required super-human patience when my energy was already used up.

But I miss reading stories out loud.

I have shelves full of children’s books, everything from picture books to middle grade. They are full of stories. I remember holding those books and speaking the words that made those stories come to life. I miss having faces turned toward the story, absorbing it. I still get to read aloud sometimes, mostly to other people’s children. But I’ve been wondering if there is a way to convince my teenagers to sit down and listen while Mom reads them Christmas stories. I might get away with it because Christmas makes everyone a bit nostalgic.

Christmas is like a time capsule. This year as I pull out the decorations and ornaments, I discover thoughts and emotions that I accidentally packed away in prior years. Remembered joy and sadness come out of the boxes along with objects that haven’t seen the light of day in eleven months. Ornaments bring back memories from decades ago and from last year. This is both a lovely thing and a difficult one. Since last year I was not in a good place emotionally, this year I have more emotion to process than usual. It helps that the home construction is forcing us to change many of our Christmas patterns. The tree is in a different room, there is no piano on which to display our Christmas pyramid. The physical changes we’re making in our house will create a before and after. That too will get folded into our holiday memories.

I haven’t yet pulled out my stock of Christmas books. They used to line up on the piano, now they’ll need to go elsewhere. But I want them out. I want to have those stories close to hand. And even if I don’t get to read them aloud to my children, I can read some of them to myself. I’m looking forward to seeing my friend the Grinch and remembering once again that we don’t save Christmas, it saves us.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

December 1st, 2016

A Week in Three Photos

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ladder-tree
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas? Well, not exactly. But that spot where the ladder is will be where the Christmas tree goes. That’s the plan anyway. I need to get the last of the sheetrock removed. There used to be a closet where the ladder currently stands. This is step one of a long, slow process to remodel our kitchen. I was supposed to make some calls this week to price out other aspects of the remodel. Unfortunately I’ve been feeling unfocused.

Though there were a couple of bright spots. On Tuesday we got the wet proofs for the Defaced Seventy Maxims book.
wetproofs
These are pages of the actual paper printed by the actual machine that will do the printing for the book. It is our opportunity to really see if what we’ve planned will work. And it does. Tomorrow I need to comb through the proofs one more time and then give the okay to print.

On Thursday, today, we got advanced copies of the Pristine Seventy Maxims book.
pristine-advanced-copes
Those few moments of opening the package are always anxiety ridden. I suddenly am convinced that I’ve made a huge error and ruined the entire print run. So my first few moments holding a new book I feel a mix of excitement and dread. What if when I open it, I suddenly find the fatal error? We haven’t found the error yet, which means it is a typo level error rather than a “this book is ruined” error. I can live with that. The book is beautiful. I can’t wait to see it side by side with the companion book.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

November 28th, 2016

Letters to Things

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Dear Road Sign,
“Road Congestion at Scipio Summit, Expect Delays” Does not adequately convey “You will be parked on the freeway for so long that people will be walking their dogs and men will be heading into the bushes to pee.” I think that word does not mean what you think it means.

Dear fellow drivers caught in a traffic jam,
I understand that you are frustrated at being stopped on the freeway, and that you really want to get home, but please don’t be stupid. Driving on shoulder of road = stupid. Driving wrong way up freeway onramp because you didn’t take the exit 100 feet and twenty minutes ago, also stupid. Fleeing onto frontage roads and then reconnecting with the freeway in reckless ways so that you cause additional accidents, supremely stupid. At least six of you were this last kind of stupid. Less than an inch of snow on the ground, just drive slow and patient then we’ll all get home.
No love.

Dear Brain,
Why did you decide to hand me the title and plot for a picture book where Amy’s Mommy is the central character? Amy’s fans don’t want a book about Amy’s Mommy. Okay, maybe parents of Amy’s fans might want it, but it is still a strange and difficult-to-market niche. Also, we have other projects where our attention should be focused. We don’t need to be drafting sentences, okay fine, I’ll write them down.

Dear fellow travelers after the traffic jam,
Thank you for being far more sane and patient that I was afraid you would be. You didn’t cause any more accidents after we cleared the mess. Thank you.

Dear home,
I love you. Glad I got here.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

November 25th, 2016

Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is accomplished. We went nowhere, played video games, watched movies, and read books all day. There was food, and for once the kids didn’t snarf it down and leave the table in less than ten minutes. We ate, laughed, shared stories, and cleaned up together. One of the things I am most grateful for at Thanksgiving is the way that the world backs off. Emails taper to a trickle. Social media slows down. None of the organizations to which I belong schedule anything because they all assume people are busy with family. So for a day or two, my world shrinks to just the people in my house. It is peaceful. My house is filled with good people. Tomorrow work begins again, and by Monday we’ll be fully into the swing of Christmas season. But for tonight I have the quiet calm of Thanksgiving.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

November 19th, 2016

Things Changing

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A couple of weeks ago my country had an election and the results of it are a real shift in how things are done. Many people I know are terrified of how the changes will play out. I’ve spent some time anxious as well. So my usual online places are full of anxiety, outrage, calls for people to calm down, and calls to action.

Much closer to home, my congregation was reorganized last week. My church organizes its congregations (called wards) geographically. Where you live decides where you attend and who you attend with. The neighborhoods around my house have had significant demographic shifts in the past five years. Lots of apartment complexes have gone in, the average homeowner in my area is a grandparent rather than a parent with young children under their roof. These shifts left some of the wards seriously understaffed and other wards overflowing with new residents from apartment complexes. So they re-drew the imaginary lines which defined the ward boundaries.

The new boundaries have some of my friends, with whom I’ve attended for years, now attending different congregations than I do. It adds a lot of new people to my ward. My ward has a different number than it used to (7th instead of 9th). This means a complete shakedown in ward leadership. We have a new bishopric and new presidencies of all the auxiliary organizations (like youth classes, children’s classes, Sunday School, etc.) For myself, all of this is fine. But it means that my children will have new teachers, and I may have to go explain to those teachers about the special needs of my kids. There are conversations incoming, and I have no way of knowing if the conversations will be quick and simple or if I’ll be spending significant time and energy teaching people how to deal with my kids. I’ll begin to know who the new teachers are starting tomorrow morning.

On top of all the above change, we’re also remodeling. Oddly the remodeling has been more grounding than disruptive. The original plan would have been very disruptive. We’d intended to hire a contractor and do our best to stay out of his way. But the significant increase in our health insurance premium, and financial uncertainty surrounding how the new national administration will affect our business, made us decide to do more of the remodeling work ourselves. As a result, we’ve been taking the work in small sections. Move furniture from corner, paint corner, replace furniture, prep next segment. It is an odd, piecemeal approach, but it gives us time to think about each step as we get to it. When we get to the point of replacing cabinets, counters, and flooring, we’ll hire professionals. But the small stuff we can do, and we have been.

Taking control of the physical appearance of our house doesn’t actually help us control any of the other changes, but we feel better about all of it. We are slowly, carefully, piece by piece, creating the place where we want to live. I figure I can take the same approach with the other changes as well. I can pick a spot to focus and try to make that spot work as it should. On a community scale, I might spend a life’s worth of effort in a single spot, and that is okay.

For now, I have a ceiling to paint.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

November 12th, 2016

A couple of days ago I tweeted:
“Today I’m shipping packages, taking care of household tasks, and considering carefully what I should do to make the world a better place.”
“I need to pick a “make the world better” goal which is sustainable over the long haul, which is why I’m considering carefully.”

A friend tweeted back that she would love to hear what ideas I came up with. I still haven’t formulated a full plan, but last night a piece of it came into focus. It started with reading this series of tweets from a former Congress staffer on
How to effectively talk to your member of congress

A step not mentioned in that link is figuring out what to talk to my representatives about. Specific conversation is much more effective than generalized conversation. If you call and say “Please oppose Bill A because of reason Z” That is concrete and actionable. Whereas “Protect the rights of vulnerable people” can be interpreted in all sorts of ways, both good and bad. It is also more effective to talk about specific bills right before they are voted on.

It turns out there is a website dedicated to informing US Citizens when Congress is in session and what they’ll be voting on.
Calendars and Schedules for the House and Senate

They don’t yet have a schedule for 2017, but I noticed that the House will be in session the week of November 14. Here is a list of bills they will be voting on. Maybe one of those bills matters to you. You might want to check.

I also googled and found a website that makes it easy to find out who your representatives are and how to contact them. whoismyrepresentative.com

Having found those sites, I’ve realized that if I take a small fraction of the time I spend reading news sites and just scan over upcoming legislation, I will be aware when a bill occurs that I feel strongly about. Then I can take the few minutes necessary to call my representative. Or if I feel really strongly, perhaps I can speak up to draw attention to the bill. Or if I feel critically urgent about a particular bill, I might be able to organize a group of people to work together to support or oppose.

I suspect I won’t feel critically urgent very often. The vast majority of bills are routine or have no effect where I live. I’ll leave those to the people who are affected.

For this next week, one bill jumped out at me. H.R.5332 Women, Peace, and Security act. (Full text available at the link) In my quick read, it states that, statistically, peace treaties and agreements last longer when women are involved in making them, so therefore the US should make an effort to include more women in creating peace treaties and in negotiations. I would like to see that pass, so I’ll be calling my representative this week.

I’m also setting a reminder on my calendar to check back on the scheduling website in a month to see if they’ve posted the 2017 schedule yet. Then once they have, I’ll set reminders to check the specific bills the week before they get voted on. This is a small sustainable thing I can do.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

November 9th, 2016

Worries

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It turns out that I am among the people who are afraid because of the election results. I’d already been informed that our health insurance premium would be going up by $600 per month. Now I’m wondering if I’ll have health insurance at all a year from now. I worry that financial uncertainty will impact sales in our store over the holiday months. Which then affects my budget for next year. There are lots of large question marks. We’ll figure it out and find a way through, but the ambient anxiety in our house has gone up. I have a child who seriously and earnestly advocated for moving to a different country, even though it meant leaving her friends. She’s that scared. I don’t know what the increased uncertainty, and possible unpleasant interactions at school, will do to destabilize my kids’ mental health. We’d barely managed to get to a place where no one was in crisis.

And those are just the top of my head worries. I have larger worries for friends and family whose situations are far more vulnerable than mine. I worry for friends who are more likely to become targets for anger and hatred.

Yet, I believe in the power of people to band together and help each other through. So I’m going to spend today being kind. I’m also going to try to listen to the thin thread of reassurance which is coming to me and saying “It may be rough for a while, but you’ll be okay.” I’m also going to remember that anxiety means I’m focused on the future instead of being focused on today. I don’t have to do all the days ahead of me yet. I just have to do today, one hour at a time.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

November 7th, 2016

Cocooning

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Since last Friday I’ve been practicing some deliberate cocooning. This means I’m not checking news sites, only peeking at social media to see if I’ve been messaged, and generally letting the larger world take care of itself without me paying attention. I’ve already placed my vote, what small amount of control I have has been exercised. So I’m going to ignore numbers and polls. Tomorrow I’m going to do my best to be occupied with work. Then Wednesday I’m going to do the same while there is furor over whatever result we get. Because no matter the election results, a significant portion of our fellow Americans will be terrified of the result. I hope that those who are relieved can be kind to those who are afraid. Because if I am among the afraid group, I would dearly love to be reassured that things will be okay.

I do think that if we can all be better about how we interact with the people we meet in person, then the sum of millions of compassionate interactions will be the America we’d like to be instead of the partisan one which is visible on the internet.

So tomorrow I will sign a paper to okay printing for the Pristine Seventy Maxims book. I will tweak the layout on the Defaced Seventy Maxims book so that it can go to print in the next few weeks. I will email the next batch of Kickstarter backers so that I can get their orders updated with the version of book they want. I will put finishing touches on a document we plan to release to Planet Mercenary backers. I will answer email. I will fold laundry. I will listen to my son tell me about the first performance for the school play (he’s stage crew.) I’ll listen to my daughter chatter about whichever random thing she is focused on. Maybe I will talk to my college girl on the phone. Perhaps I will send a picture of flowers to friends who I think might need one. Maybe I’ll rake leaves.

When I really think about it, all the fears are far out in the wide world. The things up close are mostly worthwhile and wonderful. For the next few days, I’m going to keep my eyes focused on the things up close.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

October 31st, 2016

Halloween

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My social media feeds are full of costume pictures. This makes me quite glad. It is much nicer to have personal pictures that I can click to show appreciation rather than posts full of links where I have to click “hide” to protect myself from anxiety. I’ll take pumpkins and costumes.

We’re having a low-key Halloween here at Chez Tayler. None of my kids are interested in Trick or Treating. Only one of them put together a costume. The other three either didn’t care or didn’t have the energy to devote to thinking one up and making it. We even missed the neighborhood Halloween party. Not on purpose, it just fell in the middle of a working Saturday. We got to the next day before we realized we’d missed it.

I’ve been focusing my energy on Kickstarter management and getting my junior high kid settled into partial homeschooling. I’ve also been clearing the way so I can spend Friday retrieving Kiki from college. She’s coming home for a weekend visit and a doctor’s appointment. So Halloween happened all around me while I was not paying attention.

It is strange to shift from a life where Halloween was a major event requiring weeks of deliberation and planning to a life where we might accidentally miss it if there weren’t trick or treaters at the door. But that is where we are right now. Perhaps another year we’ll get back into the costuming groove, but for this year we’re spending our energy elsewhere.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

October 28th, 2016

Loose Thoughts

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This afternoon I got to listen to myself say “Yes, I’ve made a bunch of extra work for myself, but the extra work is much less stressful than what I had before. Because I know at the end of the work I will feel confident that I delivered what the backers expected. That is a much nicer feeling than sick doubt.” All of which is true. Much of the piles of work ahead of me are tedious, but right now I’ll take tedious over complicated. So many of the things on my To Do list are complicated and require difficult decisions.

While I was at SiWC I got to sit down with a close friend and talk about the things in her life and the things in mine. We talked for hours. Several times during that conversation I spoke things that I hadn’t put into words before they came out of my mouth. This is one of the treasures about long hours spent with a friend. There are so many thoughts that I’ve buried deep underneath the surface pleasantries. I never meant to hide them. I’m not ashamed of anything that is in there. I just didn’t have time to pay attention to my thoughts as things happened. So I end up with layers of thoughts, so many layers that I’ve forgotten what the floor looks like. I write about the things as they happen, but fundamentally writing is like talking to myself. It does not spark the same insights that happen when my thoughts meet someone else’s thoughts.

Many of the thoughts buried in my head are sad. I’ve collected memories of many difficult moments over the past few years. The sadness doesn’t go away just because the thought is buried. It leaks. And it doesn’t magically get better even if the situations which caused the sadness are mostly resolved. Before I can let the sadness go, I have to find the source of it and see it for what it is. Only then can I move onward. All these layers of unprocessed emotion are part of why the anxiety gets bad sometimes. They are definitely a source of fatigue. It is hard to keep moving with so much built up in my head.

I’m trying to be better about seeing friends. I’m trying to spend time with people who don’t mind listening while I sort. There’s just so much that I worry I’ll wear out their patience. It would be very nice to start reducing the quantity of unprocessed emotion rather than watching it accumulate.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

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