July & August update for Operation Foxy By 40: sewing, shark mantras, cat quilts and the meaning of life.
A new hobby
This year Gareth is deep into restoring a vintage motorcycle, a 1976 Honda CB750. Much of its dismembered innards are currently living under our bed in neatly labelled boxes.
I’m often called into the garage as assistant mechanic, usually when something is going wrong. He gets so cranky…
Why can’t I just learn something WITHOUT having to make fifteen mistakes first!?
Why can’t things just WORK!
Who’s bloody idea was it to buy this anyway?!
It’s going back on eBay!
And off he stomps inside to see if some other middle aged dude on YouTube knows how to fix it.
A few days later mysterious packages start arriving from David Silver Spares. Random oils and rubber rings and chunks of metal. He goes back into the garage then a few hours later there’s a triumphant, YES! Get the kettle on!
He kept asking when I’d get my own new hobby to ease his spare part shopper’s guilt. I’ve been wanting to learn to sew for ages but was wary of bringing even more stuff into the house (home brewing, cycling and motorbikes are not compact hobbies).
But then Mum visited with a half-finished quilt for Ziggy (squee!). She needed a sewing machine to finish off the border, so we decided a basic machine would be my early birthday present. Thanks Mum!
It took me a month to work up the nerve to touch it. So many levers. So many dials. So much jargon! Praise be to Tilly Walnes’ Make Friends With A Sewing Machine course. She explains things down to my level, which is the “this is the ON button” level.
I love the scary sweary newness of it. So far all I have done is sew squiggles on pieces of muslin (old Liz Earle facecloths!). But it was great fun. Especially after I realised it looked so shit because I’d neglected to put the presser foot down.
Tilly’s course has a lesson to make a basic scarf so I’ll try that next. I don’t have a particular project in mind after that. To be honest, I quite fancy just getting a really long piece of fabric and sewing down that bastard as fast as I can! Every time my foot touches the pedal, I’m overwhelmed with the urge to accelerate. It’s like being back in Canberra at the start of a Northbourne Avenue Dream Run.
Six months with the fluffy one
I found this scribbled in my morning pages notebook from January 3:
First of all, what the heck is You Can Do This, You Are A SHARK! Morning brain, you crack me up.
(Edit: Thanks Julianne for remembering where this is from: the self esteem shark meme! “Super great.”)
I’m happy to report back to January 3 Shauna that yes indeed, a cat can help with anxiety. Ziggy keeps me in the here and now. I melt when we arrive home and she sprawls belly up in the hallway ready for a pat. I love the days when she decides to sit on my desk in the loaf position, alternating snoozing with a withering stare. Best of all I love her refusal to eat her dry cat food from the bowl – you have to toss it around the room, piece by piece, so she can “hunt it down”. It’s love.
Much of July was spent in a post-Brexit existential cloud. Questioning the point and meaning and purpose of things, what I’m contributing; the state of the world in general. I’ve always been a big ponderer but this one was a doozy!
Can we have some real talk?
One of the biggest aims of Foxy By 40 is to stop hiding and of course that’s the one I’m struggling with most.Writing and sharing here is how I’ve connected with the humans and made sense of things since May 2000. But many times in recent years I’ve let some old negative experiences put the frighteners on me. As a result I’ve only tended to write about deeper stuff after I’d “figured it out”, in an attempt to preempt negative outcomes. Like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, except my eyeballs are completely intact.
Life though, is messy and refuses to be tied up into neat blog posts. And of course you cannot control the response to what you put out there.
Since the binge eating situation has improved so much this past year, I’ve been flooded with all these feelings that were previously repressed and numbed. I’m restless and questioning and hungry hungry hungry for I don’t quite know what.
I do know that I crave big deep conversations. But how often do I ever bloody try to start such conversations? Not often, because I’m too busy hiding. Deary, you are knocking on the door of 40. Enough of that.
Which finally brings me to today’s question!
Has anyone else out there come to a time in their lives where you felt a little overwhelmed by the vast yawn of years ahead? Wondering what to do with them; how to fill them in a meaningful way? For example, if one doesn’t end up filling some of those years with a family, what shall one do? What’s next?
Yet simultaneously thinking:
Holy crap, we are running out of time! Life is fragile and I could get snuffed out by a bus tomorrow. So much to do while I can! So many delicious possibilities! Still so many books to read before The End!
(I’m still hoping to be talent spotted while reading a book under a tree. Oh my goodness the way your eyeballs slide across the page is exemplary! You are the Kate Moss of readers and I want to sign you up right now. You shall be handsomely paid to do nothing but read books for the rest of your life. A mix of fluff and classics, sure…)
If you’ve ever reached such a place, what did you do? How did you navigate your way through?
I feel quite okay with all this swirling around upstairs, just observing it as I sew squiggles on muslin cloths. In the spirit of unhiding I thought I’d share in case anyone else out there is pondering, too.
In the meantime I’ll keep on swimming, because apparently I am a SHARK!