Saturday, April 15, 2006

Themeless in the Prattle

I've tried several times to post. Usually, I start typing and a theme emerges. Not this week.

A couple of times I have been speaking with people at the shop about posting here and I have had a theme arise in the conversation. Each time I get back to the computer, I can't recall what I was going to write about.

What's going on? I think there is so much going on in that black hole of electrical storms that I call a brain, that I can't sort through them.

Speaking of electrical storms and the rapid bursts of intensity that they create, I am reminded of a conversation with a friend in the industry. We were talking about how yarn stores around the country are doing. Who's doing well, who's not and why. My friend confirmed what several other sources had told me: shops that have event after event after event, with celebrity instructors (yes, there are knitting celebrities) and a relentless stream of excitement, are the ones thriving.

Oh my.

Now, don't get me wrong. Events are fun. I enjoy them. And I actually enjoy planning them. What strikes me as odd, though, is that knitting has the intrinsic value of creating a state of meditation. Of calming the knitter and reducing stress. Yet, for a yarn store to thrive it has to provide exciting stimulation. A constrant stream of knitting caffeine. (No, I'm not getting back to the coffee thing again!) Another of life's paradoxes.

Meanwhile, I'm overstimulated by all that I want to accomplish with Circles. Community ownership, a pattern collaborative, book publishing, Circles' project kits, more support of farmers and artisans, more travel, more creative inspiration, more connection, more, more, more.....!!!! With all these visions spinning around in my head, I feel like one of those spinning tops. Its exhilirating to watch them whirl. The colors blur into magical designs and you feel yourself pulled into another dimension. Then they fall over and play dead. You'll only respin that thing so many times until you're tired of giving it that boost. Then you find something else to do.

I've been spinning with excitement and this week I fell over. This is a time when its critical that I focus on the tangible tasks at hand and put the future vision on hold. Otherwise none of the visions will ever manifest. For now I'll have to focus on keeping the class and event schedule for the next six months vibrant. The other thing to keep my attention is our big transition to community ownership.

I haven't felt that I've had anything at all eloquent to say in the past two weeks and that has stopped me from posting. Eloquence requires a certain detachment, a bit of reflection. Perhaps there isn't time for reflection right now. It might just be a time for doing. So, let's see how I do.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Not Your Hostess Cupcake

Some days are ugly. Not because of the weather. or something anyone else does. Not because I've come down with a cold. Just because, on that day, for some reason, my inner ugliness decides to have a public stroll. Usually, I do something that is, shall we say, self-destructive to launch the whole affair. When the launch is completed and I have landed squarely in the valley of self-loathing, its all over for anyone who comes into my path.

To keep things in perspective, I'm not cutting myself or going on drinking binges, or anything. I'm not punching anyone or screaming expletives. So, why am I writing about this here? Because my life is a bit public and my ugly days are, perhaps, more public than some. I am the hostess of a community. I espouse to want to generate connection. I seek even the faintest bit of grace in life. So, my ugly days are framed squarely on the wall of the community experience as the epitome of what I hope to reduce in the world. My hyprocisy is there for the viewing. My feelings of shame are magnified.

Grace isn't something you build up a savings of and draw upon until you can make another deposit. It is fleeting. You are blessed with a moment of it and you can only hope to see another. You can't rest on your laurels. The fact that we had a day full of grace on a Saturday, didn't have any bearing on the following Thursday. You might be asking yourself, "So, what happened? Spill it already!"

Last Thursday I drove my daughter to school and witnessed another child being mean to her. She was confused and hurt and I scooted her on by and ushered her into her classroom. In the time that it took to get her to her locker, hand her off to the teacher and run into the other child again, the protective Mother Lion in me had risen. I quietly, but intensely told that child that my daughter didn't understand what was going and that it would be best if he would be nice about it.

Probably just should have spoken to the teachers. My daughter reported to me later that day that the same child chased her around the playground screaming, "I hate you", until she cried.

Meanwhile, I ran a few errands and was stopping to get some lunch. My intention upon entering the food establishment - which was an ice cream parlour - was to get soup. I left with a decaf chai and a chocolate dipped peanut butter cookie. (Could I be poisoning myself as punishment for approaching that child?) Needless to say, my behavior did not improve as the day went on. I was wired for sound. Lots of it pouring out of my non-stop mouth.

Being a Thursday, we had our Thursday night Social Circle. I probably shouldn't have socialized. Because I wasn't that sociable, really. I was edgy. Nothing but sugar and caffeine since about 7am. It wasn't pretty. I wasn't gracious. I was tenaciously righteous with a dose of not-so-passive aggressiveness. Ellen, please forgive me.

Ellen, rather innocently mentioned that she had visited a yoga retreat center and that she felt it improved by the fact that they now serve coffee.

Imagine. Here I am wired on sugar and caffeine, having aimed a little power display at a 6 year-old earlier in the day and now, as a hostess, I'm going to stick my claws into the hypocrisy of coffee at a yoga retreat. And stick, and stick and stick. Oh, the layers...

Its not that there isn't validity to questioning coffee at a yoga retreat. Its that I couldn't keep my mouth shut, or just say me peace and let it go. Saying your peace means being at peace. I guess its obvious that I wasn't.

Even if there is merit in debating the presence of coffee at a yoga retreat, there is a way to do that which is neutral. I feel in retrospect that my continual return the topic wasn't just about the retreat center. After all, Ellen doesn't control their policies. She simply stated her opinion of them. So, was I really attacking her opinion? More layers.

It is clear that my behavior was not warranted and that I owe Ellen and the Thursday night circle an apology. Its also clear that I might want to avoid sugar/caffeine lunches and get some real nourishment in my system. This little act of self-destruction isn't new, though and it will probably take years more introspection to eliminate it from my personality.

In the meantime, I'm public. These transgressions are public. I'm scrutinized. Sometimes harshly. Does my inability to be the perfect Hostess Cupcake on a daily basis mean that I shouldn't host a community? Is it simply too hyprocritical to promote the idea of connection to one another if I'm capable of moments where I'm more connected to my inner demons than the people I'm supposedly communing with? Is it unpardonable that I would cause discomfort to another in a group setting?

I wrestle with these questions all the time. While I strive to improve my behaviors, I know that being in the public eye pushes me along. Also, I tell myself that my imperfection lets others know that they can be embraced without being perfect. I recite to myself my favorite Rumi poem:

Come, come whoever you are
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving
Ours is not a caravan of despair
Though you have broken your vows a thousand times
Come, come again.

I'll continue to wrestle and hope that I'm an acceptable hostess as I continue to receive admonitions and even rejections. And in my better moments, I'll look around and receive the virtual embraces of the wonderful people who grace the doorstep at Circles.