I have a different way of making meals than most. Since I live by myself, it’s easy to make an entree or two that will stretch through the entire week. ...
I spent the weekend working on a project that had me walking on eggshells. About two weeks ago, I was commissioned to make a book for a Princeton administrator. The deadline was tight: just a mere five days to put together a photo book and get it back to Jersey. I hesitated after being asked. Could I really bind such a book under such parameters? I decided to gather a little fortitude and agree to the project. And of course, like all things that scare me, I’m glad I faced them head on.
Although this book looks very simple, it took hours of precision and focus. I’d started the project one evening and made pretty significant headway. I was feeling good. After all, I’d blocked off the entire weekend to work on this, even turning down an invitation to read at a literary event. The process (and money) would be worth it.
I hit a pretty serious snag on Friday afternoon. I got home from work, jazzed and ready to spend the next five hours in my “studio.” I began trimming the page edges, something I’ve only done a few times before and generally on paper thicker than card stock. The longer I trimmed with the Exact-o knife, the messier it got. I kept inadvertently cutting too far into my pages, taking the 10″ length down to 9.75″. I swear that I was working slowly, yet these mistakes still happened. Sometimes, even the most planned projects can go awry.
I had a breakdown. I swore and cried. I sat on the floor and contemplated quitting altogether. I wasn’t sure what to do: keep trimming and hope for the best? Try and find a heavy machine that could trim these down no swear (but where?) Or start all over again?
And so, I started over. I cut all those pages again and sewed them together. That sentence makes the process sound simple, but to do this well, one must be careful. I spent nearly three hours doing the same first part over again.
In the end, that move made all of the difference. I didn’t trim the edge pages and instead let them go, a style that I honestly prefer anyway. I spent the bulk of Saturday finishing up with the Japanese raw silk and the boards, feeling mighty proud of the finished product.
I share these snags on this space because I can. I want to admit to challenges.
Not every piece of art can be perfect. It wouldn’t be art that way. I share these struggles because I think it’s human to err and try again. And at the end of the day, I believe it is in the moments like these, when my face is tear-stained and I’m ready to give up, that I start to understand myself a little better. That I learn about what challenges me and more importantly – how to fix them.
A little while ago I wrote about how I may have chosen the wrong word for the year. Well, that definitely didn’t prove to be true. It seems that I’ve needed that word a lot in the past couple of weeks. I’m navigating some new beginnings, or least returning to some old hobby loves. And in being asked to do this or that, I’ve needed a ton of strength and courage.
It’s funny. It’s hard to write this in a way that makes sense, but did you ever feel like you weren’t going anywhere at all? The all-too-familiar life on a hamster wheel cliche? I never really felt that I was “spinning in circles” but more that I wasn’t spinning anywhere. Like my legs got too tired. Or I was distracted by complacency. When I first moved to Pittsburgh, I felt enthusiastic about the possibilities. Then, there was a year or so of just… not much. I just gave up trying, I suppose. I didn’t start anything new, and I got stuck into a rut-filled pattern of not producing really anything I was proud about.
It seems that’s being lifted now. I am starting to feel like I used to when I was fulfilled and engaged. And in order to feel this way, I had to have a little fortitude – having strength through challenges. I had to believe in myself and say yes to new projects. I am saying yes to new opportunities and goals. And more importantly, I had to do. As Pittsburgher Rick Sebak said once: the prize is really in the doing.
So that’s what I’m busy with. Eventually I’ll reveal more details about the different things I’m embarking on, especially as they are more settled. But I feel so wonderful with where my life is at right now. It’s been such a journey, and I am constantly surprised by the ebbs and flows this life brings me. But ultimately, I am happy with where it’s going.
We arrived back from our trip to Maine this past weekend. And what a time it was. It’s hard to believe what all we saw and did while out of town for just a short five days. I already long to go back.
I have yet to sort through all my photos, but this one stands out most to me. On our last day in Maine, we walked to the Rockland Breakwater Light House. You can only reach this lighthouse by walking on rocks a mile long. Needless to say, the walk encourages precise stepping.
It’s quite a thing, to be surrounded on both sides by water. To walk out to a little house in the middle of the ocean. To step upon something that took two decades to build. To be able to say, I was there.
This was a pensive kind of walk, too. The kind that reminds you that you are just one small thing in the scheme of this great big earth. But that doesn’t negate the steps or the path you make. It just makes you appreciate it a bit more.
I have to catch my brain sometimes. Does this happen to you? It starts working in this strange way – a cycle of belief, then disenchantment, followed by a lack of confidence. I usually hear an idea, feel genuinely interested or good about it before the worry sets in. That’ll occur minutes later, when I’ve had ample time to digest. My first thought is always: I’m not good enough.
I’ve spent the past two years in therapy figuring out where that comes from. But even knowing the answer doesn’t make it go away. Just when I start feeling confident, I knock myself down a peg. Maybe it’s to keep me balanced, avoid getting a big head. But sometimes that negative nance is too close. And I’d like her to leave.
This week I was sought out by a high-profile client for my bookbinding services. The experience would be incredible, and I’d get to work with such precision under a tight deadline. Of course, with negative nance right there, I thought about declining, offering up the project to another bookbinder. Quite frankly, I didn’t feel good enough. My skills felt outdated. And even though I’m working my way toward more serious bookbinding again, I just plain felt scared.
It took an entire night of thought to decide what to do. I leaned upon others, as always, and that seemed to spark a lot of confidence. I thought about that little word: fortitude. That means going through hard times with courage. Learning new skills? Hard. Working with a high-profile client? Hard. Meeting a 5-day deadline? Even harder.
But if I’m following that word, then I have to have courage. And if I have that courage in my pocket, instead of that dreadful nance, then I’m more likely to come out with a successful product. And so that is what I’m going to do. I’m going to make that book, and I’m going to show it to all of you. And I have no doubt that I’ll be proud – and happy that I said yes.
In just a few short days, I’ll be tackling the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. Weeks of training has brought me to this weekend, where I’ll run 13.1 miles across the city of Pittsburgh. The day after that, my boyfriend and I are embarking on a long vacation to Maine.
We planned this, months ago, because it’s a place we’ve never been and the rates were good. We’ll be spending half of our time in Portland, and the other half in Rockland. We have different activities in mind (Acadia National Park, for one), and last night we booked reservations for three different restaurants in town.
Of course, I’m going for the food.
We’ll be dining at Five Fifty-Five our first night in town. This place looks swanky and has a nice wine selection.
Our second night, we’re going to check out Street and Company, which has been deemed as Portland’s best place to get seafood. That dinner is set for 9 p.m., so let’s pray I don’t old-lady it up and fall asleep beforehand.
We’ll be ending our week in Rockland, and so, we’re going out with a bang at Francine Bistro. This place, quite simply, looks off the chain delicious.
And so, I’ll be returning to Pittsburgh in a week with many reviews to share – and probably 5 additional pounds added to my weight.