Photo: I got an email from a Dear Reader asking me what embroidery thread I’ve been using for the two projects I’ve posted pictures of. I discovered Valdani thread over the summer and will never use another embroidery thread again. I’m very lucky that two local crafting shops carry it, so I can go pick it up whenever I want and support my local fiber arts community. It would seem that Amazon also carries it (this is an affiliate link). If there is an embroiderer in your life who doesn’t have a local shop that carries Valdani, consider gifting a set to them. I’m really, really pleased with the color and performance of the thread on the projects I’m doing. One is done and at the framers to be matted. The other is 2/3rds done… Lord, I hope I get it done in time for Christmas!
I have a recurring anxiety dream that is fairly classic. There are two variations working on the same theme. The first variation is that I’m back at my undergrad days, starting my senior year, and I get an email saying that I am missing a class and will not graduate on time unless I take it. It’s always a math class. It’s always a math class. I scramble, beg, bribe, cry… usually waking up just before I walk into a lecture hall for a class I know I’m going to fail, jeopardizing all my hard work. The second variation is even worse. Same start: undergraduate, cruising to graduation, but then I realize I am registered for a class that I never dropped and I never went to. Finals are in 2 weeks and I’ve gotta figure out how the hell I’m going to pass it. Those dreams are always political science classes taught by my old mentor. She always has the same look on her face; a combination of “where the hell have you been?” and also “I done told you this would happen.”
I was a transfer student to UMBC, so the first variation of my anxiety dream did actually happen to me. I remember the email vividly. Most of the credits from the HBCU I’d attended my freshman year had transferred, but the Registrar at UMBC had questions about the 2 math classes I had taken. I got the email in August before Senior year started. I was living on campus anyway because I’d been a summer RA. I remember sprinting to the office, sweating puddles in the ill-decorated lobby. I had to do a hell of a lot of tap dancing: calling the old college, emailing professors, faxing syllabus after syllabus to the Registrar… it was a mess. But, I got out of taking that extra math class! Thank God because, the Fall of my senior year, I had a courseload of 22 credits. No wiggle room for nothin’. I’d had to get special permission to do that and everything! Variation two, thankfully, did not happen to me in real life. Variation two is what got me up last night around 4, as I was anxious about an important meeting that I had this morning.
Both dreams are my brain reminding me, none too subtly, that I feel woefully unprepared for the challenges I come up against sometimes. I think my brain is also reminding me not to get comfortable. I’m not as smart as I let on. My confident presence is just an illusion. I often feel this way after sparing with one of my smarter, more successful friends, too. This is one of those anxieties I’ve always had, even when I was a child. It just so happens to manifest in this particular way now that I’m an adult. I recognize that it’s a fear that will never leave me.
So is my fear of flying. For three whole weeks before flying to Austin, I had the worst anxiety about getting on the plane. I complained to anyone who would listen to me about it. I’ve never loved flying. Ever. I don’t like it, I don’t trust it, I hate giving up control in such a way. I feel very vulnerable yet so boxed in. By the night before the flight to Austin, I was scrubbing plates nervously and in tears. I ended up sobbing into The Husband’s shoulder. “This was a bad idea. I really don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave you and get on that plane.”
It’s embarrassing to write. I know it’s irrational. I’ve flown before. I went up in the air and was brought back safely to the ground. The people I love have done it, too. The Husband does it multiple times a year. There are people in the air right now as I type this and as you read this.
My Quiet Thoughts are about how powerful fear can be. I’m thinking about how fear can change and grow, especially as we get older. It seems to crystallize into newer, sharper variations as the years go by, pronouncing themselves in creative ways, to the point of making real changes in our behavior if we aren’t careful. We have to notice them and call them by name, pulling back the curtains of our embarrassment to disinfect them with the daylight of outside attention sometimes.
One thing that I appreciate about my two anxiety dreams is that the end is always ambiguous. I never see the failure. There is always a possibility that I pass the math class, or somehow pull off passing the final for the class I missed (if it’s an essay, I’m golden!). The beginning doesn’t always dictate the end. Anything is possible, Dear Reader. Onward, to the next daunting, impossible challenge!
It is a cold night here in Massachusetts, and tomorrow we’re getting our first snow. 6 whole American inches of the fluffy stuff is expected! I’m utterly miserable about it. Whatever happened to dipping a toe into the pool first before jumping right in? I’ll be up first thing tomorrow to beat the storm to the grocery store. I got milk and eggs today, but… you know… southerner panic is setting in. Pray on our snow blower, Dear Reader! The Husband hasn’t turned it on since the thaw!
It is a Friday night, the moon is out, the air is calm (for now). Is there a twinkle in the distance in your neighborhood, Dear Reader? Is there a cheerful song floating on the breeze? Is there a whispered promise of a beautiful tomorrow coming to your ear? These are my wishes for you, Dear Reader. I wish you a feeling of wonder, as the world transforms right before our eyes, snow falling from the sky and blanketing everything. I wish you a joyful smile as you watch children whole-heartedly enjoy the winter wonderland. I wish you a satisfied sigh as, hot chocolate in hand, you cozy up to a good book. I wish you the happy presence of a holiday card in your mailbox, bonus points if it is from someone you haven’t seen in a long time. I wish you a card or two of your own, written and sent off to far-flung places. It’s the time of year for tightening the threads that tie us together, Dear Reader. If you can’t stand to reach out to everyone (believe me, I understand), at least choose to hold on tightly to the ones who matter most to you. Seek warmth this weekend, Dear Reader. Winter is here. I wish you something yummy and earthy and roasty this weekend. I am totally making this chicken with mushrooms recipe I saw in the New York Times. Enjoy it with favorite people and a good story, one that reminds you that beginnings are very different than endings. Thank goodness for the challenging middles, right, Dear Reader?
As always and most of all, I wish you a moment of remembering just how precious and loved you are. This time of year can feel rushed and lonely. Don’t forget to listen and believe when a person tells you, with the fullest of their sincerity, that they love you. You matter to someone. You have earned someone’s profound respect and admiration. Do not forget this and do not waste it. Yours is a presence that is powerful and can do so much for the greater good!
Until Monday, shine brightly, sing loudly, walk proudly, reach out and take care.