Tag Archives: self-improvement

Something real.

I haven’t spent a lot of time writing about the real things. I’ve dipped into it, dodged it…but I think I’m ready to today, on this lovely Saturday afternoon in Quarantineville, New York, to write about some real shit.

I haven’t found this mandatory quarantine thing to be too difficult. I’ve settled into somewhat of a routine with working from home, still needing to run into the office to exchange files out, but for the most part, feeling pretty productive without the frequent interruptions of the phone ringing and conversations with my co-workers. I do find myself missing the atmosphere of the office though – I’ve found that I sit a long time at home, as I’m not getting up to go make copies, scan documents, use the restroom which is halfway across the building from me. So, without all of that and the interruptions, I feel like I’ve really been ahead of the game, as opposed to behind. I was pretty worried with the attorney I worked directly with resigned and left; I felt like I was going to be under a lot of pressure and then when this pandemic hit, I was even more nervous. It’s all good though – everything’s fine on my end and I’m happy to be working. Right now my wife is not; she was furloughed just over a week ago and had the joy of applying for unemployment this week in a system that’s completely overloaded and in need of a procedural overhaul.

The hardest thing, at first, was knowing that my parents were still in NYC. If you’re new to my blog, my mom was diagnosed with mesothelioma just over a year ago and has undergone chemotherapy and is now going through immunotherapy coupled with chemotherapy. All of her treatment has been at Sloan Kettering in Manhattan, so when the coronavirus showed up in Manhattan, my parents had already been living there for almost a month. In early March, my wife and I traveled down to see them and the number of cases jumped from just a handful to almost a hundred, overnight. My dad was getting nervous because besides attending my mom’s treatments and going for walks, he spends a lot of time online, reading and listening to the news. As things got worse, I just wished that they were back home, in the country. With their things, with their space, in an area that isn’t festering with the sickly when my mom’s immune system is so compromised. Home – where mountains are seen outside of the kitchen and living room windows. Where there’s a yard to walk around in, quite roads to travel on.

By the grace of God, my mom’s cancer doctors in the city decided that she’d be safer back home so my sister went down on a renegade mission to smuggle my parents out of Manhattan. They’ve been back now for just over 2 weeks and it is a relief. While I have not see them (they are quarantined – my mom remains at home and my dad only leaves when he absolutely has to), it’s just nice (to say the least) to know that they are home – for their physical health and mental health. They were renting a studio apartment that was about as big as our kitchen and dining room combined; while there are plenty of places to walk around in the city, the fact of the matter is everyone’s on top of one another, even when they are trying not to be. Hell, the people that have lived there their whole lives probably don’t even realize how sardine-like their lives are on a daily basis compared to living in a very rural setting upstate.

While tomorrow is Easter and normally the families would be getting together for meals, obviously, that is not happening. It’s going to be a very different holiday, indeed.

The most major effect the quarantine has had on me, personally, is (1) the fact that the other night, when I had a MAJOR craving for Chinese take-out, NO PLACE WAS OPEN. ZERO. ZIP. A big cup of go fuck myself was offered instead. My wife persevered, as I was having a horrible day, and we settled on Thai take-out which was lovely, but I really wanted some old school, greasy, take-out Chinese. My wife tends to cook dinner every night; we don’t do a lot of ordering out or going out to eat, so the fact that the restaurants are all closed for seated business has not affected me too much. I will say though that when life goes back to normal, I am really looking forward to brunching so damned hard at Perecca’s in Schenectady with friends and endless mimosas.

The second effect is the fact that since the kids aren’t in school, with no return date really set in stone, they are home with us all day long. They need to be occupied…all day long. Because I am working, they know not to bother/interrupt me unless it’s absolutely necessary, but they also cannot be on their ipads or on other internet-related devices all day because my VPN isn’t super strong and when they are both gaming on their ipads, I get bumped frequently. Kids really shouldn’t be on electronics all day anyway and if you disagree, well, good for you. I’m a firm believer that kids need to run, play, go outside and get dirty…they need to exercise those demons OUT of their bodies, I feel like, MORE SO, when there are two kids. Emma and Jake bicker a LOT, even more so now that they are together 24/7. I’ve noticed that on the rainy days when they are inside, they bicker more. Jake becomes a huge pest (cue the “boys will be boys” adage) if he isn’t getting his adolescent energy out. They are not the type of kids to occupy themselves for very long unless you give them an electronic device and I struggle with that. A lot.

When I was a kid, I remember playing in my homemade sandbox under the big pine tree that’s no longer there. (My parents had it removed last year – it was HUGE and such a pain in the ass because it dropped so many needles, sap, and pinecones.) I remember bouncing a soccer ball like a basketball (because my dad had run over the basketball) up and down the driveway, telling myself stories because I wanted to be an author someday. I remember swinging on my homemade swing set, conquering the monkey bars, and then listening to my Rite Aid brand Walkman for HOURS, waiting to hit “record” when my favorite songs came on the radio station. Long bike rides with my dad, where he’d grab my handlebars on hills that felt steep on my childhood legs to help me up. Sledding at the hill next to the retirement home uptown, where if you didn’t dismount on your sled quick enough, you were taking an unpleasant dip into the stream at the bottom. As an early teenager, my best friend and I would take off on our bicycles ALL DAY LONG, sometimes even crossing state lines and…get this…we didn’t have cell phones! Our parents had no idea where we were exactly and what time we’d be home, just as long as we were home before dark. Walks through the paths in the mountain across the way from my home, my dad carving initials into the side of a tree. Tubing down the Battenkill river on rafts made out of discarded tire tubes; making an entire day out of being lazy on the water.

I want that and more for Emma and Jake – not this childhood full of T.V. shows without a point or any real conversations and certainly not the gaming trend. I am not in charge though. My personality type is to BE IN CHARGE and there are some chapters in time where it really bothers me that I don’t have the ultimate control. Then that chapter ends and a new one begins where I’m fine with being a teammate instead of a leader. I feel like that’s the role a step-parent should ideally be in; a teammate – not the leader. The kids have parents who are very active in their lives – I’m not necessarily needed as a leader on a day to day basis. But I have control issues and I admit that much of the time with things, I feel like I know best. I think that stems from having to make my own way so much through adulthood – I come to an obstacle and I think of a hundred ways around it, not realizing that it isn’t always my job to be the one to come up with the answers. Other people might have answers and that’s okay, too. Their answers can be just as valid.

Back to the quarantine thing – I like home. I like BEING home. I like taking care of projects, doing chores, cleaning. A fun fact about me: every Saturday morning, I look forward to getting up whenever I naturally wake up, and puttering around my house CLEANING. Today, I got up and vacuumed the living room and completely wiped down all surfaces, including the windows. I then cleaned and mopped the kitchen floor. Did my laundry (the last of it is drying outside on the laundry line as I type!), added two more listings to my Mercari shop. My wife and I have sold some items taking up space in our home locally and online. I cleaned and organized the holiday decorations in our basement so now there’s more space to roam free. I’ve taken advantage of the nice days and gone on small hikes, walks, runs, bike rides. I even biked to the office one day this past week in order to change out files. We had topsoil delivered and have added a layer to our garden. So, being forced to be home isn’t a big deal to me and, with the wife home, we are getting some shit done.

Our home has never been cleaner. With me working from home, I have extra time to give heavily-used surfaces some disinfectant love. I have time to do a quick mid-day sweep of the floor, dishes, organizing, fetch with Adam outside for a minute or two. I am hoping that, jokes aside, people are using this at-home time to their advantage. To take care of their shit, to better themselves, to become closer to their family and re-evaluate their purpose and priorities.

This time of quiet can be a blessing, if you choose to see it as such.

Now, I’ve droned on and on. Although the pictures I’m going to share don’t really fit in with all I’ve written, I still want to share. 🙂

My wife and I took a nice, 1.5 hour bike ride today on the Hudson Mohawk bike path. The path took us under the Twin Bridges, which is cool to see from a different angle. It’s also really awesome to see so many people OUTSIDE, as if they are discovering nature for the very first time.

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I’ve also spent some time (not as much as you’d think), creating new artwork. I recently finished up a gift basket as a donation for the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless silent auction which is being done virtually in May.

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I’ve also made and sold some macramé plant hangers in various colors, this one being my latest addition to my Mercari shop (where I go by “DavisAtHome”):

When the wife was furloughed, my first reaction was to stress. “How am I going to support all of us?” “How can we keep this lifestyle, this house? Will I have to turn in my car?” Legit. I had just nearly emptied my savings due to our NYC trip and spending related thereto…all of this hit at a time where I didn’t have a sufficient nest-egg set aside. I can appreciate the importance of ensuring that emergency fund now. Theresa says we will be fine and well, when you’re in a relationship, you have to trust the person. So while I’ve continued to make things to sell, as well as work toward decluttering our home with items we do not use or need, it’s been more of a distraction from the stress and worry for me; it’s giving me a sense of purpose. Seeing the few dollars roll on in from sales gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment. One more thing gone to someone who wants or needs it; one less thing taking up space here.

So that’s the real REAL, folks, from Niskayuna, New York. Not the center of the pandemic, but a few hours north of it. It’ll be bad here soon, too, given the fact that the city is now shipping up COVID-19 patients to Albany Medical Center for treatment. Already, someone local that I used to know, has died from it. There’s no getting around it, but in the meantime, we continue to work, take mental-health breaks, and persevere.

Making myself do it.

It’s been harder lately for me to finish what I start. I’m good at ideas and at beginning projects…but I lost somewhere, sometime, the ability to see a lot of things through. I’m working on it.

Last weekend I finished 20 macrame plant holders that were ordered by the owner of the Saratoga Plantique. Somewhere around the 5th or 6th one, I wanted to put it down and work on something else…but they needed to be done. Why start another project when I could finish that one and mark it off my to-do list? So, I finished them and felt proud about it. Big check mark off of my list.

I have three sets of coasters that are almost done. I ran into an issue with one coaster of one of the sets…

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…and one of them needs to be re-papered and finished. I don’t want to do it because it’s annoying BUT if these are going to be delivered to the Schenectady Trading Company for February, I have to finish.

So instead of having a ton of things half done, ideas half-baked and half-assed, I am really trying to slow down and work through the problems that frequently arise in creating.

 

 

~Grow~

Sometimes when I’m anxious I talk too much; filling up the space with words that I hope ease mine and the other person’s [possible] discomfort. Likely a lot of the time the other person doesn’t even know that I’m uncomfortable ~ likely a lot of the time the other person isn’t uncomfortable at all. It’s just me. I’ve always thought a lot about my relationships with other people but I am determined to stop over-thinking them. All it does is complicate the relationships.

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This weekend I didn’t do that. When I my hairs were standing on end for no reason, I took a deep breath and forced myself to be normal and not fill the space with unnecessary words until I truly felt normal again. I didn’t let my anxiety dictate how the interaction was going to go and everything was just fine.

I have quite a bit going on project-wise. The owner of the Schenectady Trading Company is likely interested in more coasters so I have a couple of sets in the works right now. I have an order for 20 more macramé plant hangers from the owner of the Saratoga Plantique, who works with Crossroads in Schenectady and Saratoga Botanicals.  A friend also asked me for 3 hangers for his daughter. So, while coasters and plant hangers aren’t necessarily what I’m trying to do with Weird Glass Art Studio, I am having a great time working with different mediums and creating these special requests. I’m going with the flow.

While all of that is going on, I am also working toward finishing two current bottle projects.

I found metal pieces I liked for these bottles…

…but I am not happy with their color. My wife called them “slavery bottles” and that’s NOT the vibe I’m looking for. I have sprayed the chains metallic gold and once they are dry, I’ll put them on to see if I like them then. If they still are giving off that negative vibe, I may just leave it at twine. I am looking for the sharp texture contrast of something metal and I like the links in the chain but if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.

I also have a very simple project nearing completion; this lotus flower and newsprint decoupage bottle:

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It’s a similar design to something I have made before. This bottle will have cork lights in it and it will be hung. I made two coordinating cylinder glass candle holders with this design about a year ago and they got a lot of nice feedback, so I figured I’d take the same idea and put it on a clear wine bottle. I like the flower against the newsprint. It’s simple and pretty.

Other than that, shit’s good. This past weekend is the last weekend my wife works ~ actually the last weekend she works at her current job forever. We are excited for the new chapter, the new schedule, and hopefully for the less stress it’ll bring.

My first in-store sale!

Big news – I sold my first piece at the Schenectady Trading Company!

This beauty went to its new home:

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This vase was just a clear glass cylinder when I started with it. I layered acrylic paint to give it a stone effect and then added subtle gold metallic acrylic paint to give it the aged/vintage look. A strip of burlap overlaid with lace, a vintage brooch and a deconstructed vintage metal bead strand ~ I was (and am) really proud of this piece.

It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve worked on anything new. I’ve been gearing up for the show on October 26th at the Niskayuna High School so between deciding on what items I am going to bring, arranging the tables, making sure everything is neatly labeled and packed away, I haven’t had the time. I’ve also been doing a lot of non-craft related things like camping, a bachelorette party, and then a wedding this coming weekend.

So the weekends haven’t been free for me to work ~ which is fine, because these are all fun things ~ but I am starting to crave the free weekends that are coming back up in November. I can’t wait to get my hands into more projects – projects for sale and projects for the holidays.

I’ve been doing really well with making sure I take some time out of every day for myself. This is week 3 and it’s amazing how much of a difference it really makes. I’ve either had time to read, write, or watch a show I like every day, all while still tackling chores and projects that were kind of hanging over me. In the past week alone, while still making time for me, I ripped up the garden (with Emma’s help), put the spare bedroom’s bed together, attended a hot yoga class and used the Peloton bike 3x at home ~ all without feeling too stressed out for time. I even made 3 loaves of fresh bread on Sunday because I felt motivated to bake. It’s been a while since I’ve had the baking bug. #WinnerWinner

It’s really eye-opening to realize just a few weeks ago, simply because I wasn’t paying attention to my needs, life felt super overwhelming and I wasn’t even being as productive or doing as much. I’m consciously not trying to add more stuff to my plate simply because I feel like I could handle more; I’m enjoying the feeling right now of some sort of balance.

“The authentic self is the soul made visible” -Sarah Ban Breathnach

I had a couple of really good conversations yesterday with two different friends. To boil it all down to one sentiment, it would be “Is this it?”

As in – the routine of life we are all in, is this what life has to offer us? Or is there MORE out there?

I was then asked by one of them what makes my “soul sing” It’s a hard question because quickly thinking about it, it’s a lot of things!

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But when I peeled away the layers and the bullshit, the answer is pretty simple: Create. Grow. Pick. Those three things can be used in many different contexts.

I find great joy in making things. All kinds of things – not just my glassware. I like making all sorts of crafts; I like canning veggies and whatnot from my garden. I like making household cleaners out of natural ingredients. I like creating an entirely new outfit from pieces and parts of things I already have.

I love to grow things, whether it’s my garden, a blog, an authentic social media following, the relationships with those around me, or my knowledge on a subject.

Picking is simply reaping the reward of hard work; a job well done; or the ability to choose for yourself. Who doesn’t like any of that?!

If we can get real with ourselves and what we want – “What makes my soul sing?”  – perhaps we can achieve greater success and peace in our lives.

Last night, after reflecting on these conversations, I was left wondering how I can channel this energy – this restless, yearning-for-more energy – and direct it toward something that can achieve a result. I don’t have the answer to that yet but I will say that I feel rejuvenated and inspired this morning. There’s something about connecting with those around you and having them challenge what you think you know.

Over-peopled: Even when we are alone.

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A segment of the morning radio show I enjoy talked about the types of people you can’t hit “unfollow” or “unfriend” on social media fast enough.

But what does that have to do with the meme? I’ll get there. Hold on.

One of my favorite points about the segment wasn’t the all-too-relatable types of people, but the statement that people are just so over-peopled that we are passing by each other numb to them. A “get out of my way, I have to be somewhere” mentality that is much like walking around in NYC. Others aren’t being seen as people – but as obstacles. Something to get around. Something to get by. Something to pass. An annoyance – mild, moderate or severe.

So we’re all on social media, right? Scrolling through my Facebook feed can sometimes cause me anxiety. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with this person’s apparently perfect life, that person’s ridiculous political leanings, frustrated with cookie-cutter sales pitches, feeling like we may be living life wrong given what someone says online. It’s peopling. Sitting in a room alone on social media is still peopling. No wonder why so many of us are spent, overdone, exhausted, and lacking self-confidence. Are we really taking a break?

The fabulous thing about social media is not only is it completely voluntary to be a part of, if you do choose to be a part of it, you can choose who you are giving your attention to. Is your feed negative? Is your feed something that helps to nurture your soul? Or is it full of people judging one another when they’re standing in a bucket of shit themselves? For real though – people slang their useless opinions and advice around all over when they don’t even have their shit together themselves. And if this is overwhelming, you can opt out of that nonsense and pay it no mind.

We shouldn’t be constantly peopled. We do need to get away from each other once in a while. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded that we have the power to limit what influences us and our mental state.

On a personal note, I went through my “follow” list on Instagram and removed about 150-200 people. That felt amazing because, no offense to these people, but they weren’t adding to my life in any sort of significant way. They weren’t inspiring to me; they weren’t some kind of authority on anything relevant to my life, and some of them were just downright ignorant about the content they were tossin’ out there for the world to see. It amazes me how some people are so willing to take advice from complete strangers and even people they would never trade places with. I mean, would you take relationship advice from someone who is in a rotten relationship? Financial advice from someone eyeballs deep in debt? I suppose if you are looking for what not to do…

Either way. It’s a beautiful thing to remember that you are in charge of what you pay attention to. In order to progress forward, sometimes we have to re-evaluate what we are surrounding ourselves with and decide – is this where I want to be? Is this going to get me to where I want to be?

May is for MAYBES.


It seems like I’ve been starting the past few months like – oh hey! It’s a new month!? The realization that time is passing by as fast as water running from a faucet is getting old in 2019 quite quickly.

When it comes to achieving the monthly goals I set for myself in April, I succeeded. I sold over $200 worth of various items – the exact amount is not truly important. It was a nice clean-out month of larger items, with one Etsy sale. I also was good about making time for myself, whether it was going to the gym, working on a project, or just sleeping.

I do not have goals for May aside from the continuation of sales and steadily growing my shop (I have a craft show mid-month) and what I’ve been doing health-wise. The past few days I’ve driven quite a bit and it’s given me some time to think. Really think. I’ve been hustling my ass in hopes that it will, eventually, pan out with me doing less. I’ve been adding more to my plate thinking that at some point it will all come off of it. So far that tactic hasn’t worked very well in my life and this…habit…this…flawed sense of direction…has not given me any indication that the result will be what I want it to be. If anything, I feel busier than I’ve ever felt before and I hate it.

Why is “being busy” some sort of competition?

Why do most people pack their schedules with activities and chores that don’t bring them any real pleasure?

Why are we stressing ourselves out?

What’s the purpose?

Why am I doing this to myself?

Maybe I don’t need to necessarily set new goals for myself every month. Maybe the shit I’m doing in my life isn’t really that important.

Maybe I can focus on doing the things that feel important to me at the time – things I want to do; the things that bring me happiness and joy. Less structure. More fluidity.

All these maybes.