Monday, September 13, 2010

Finding True North....part 1

Northern Lights Easter 2006

Photo courtesy of PJ Hansen (Artic PJ). Norway: Ersfjordbotn, Troms  Fylke.

True north is the direction along the earth's surface towards the geographic North Pole.
True north usually differs from magnetic north (the direction of the magnetic north pole) and grid north (the direction northwards along the grid lines of a map projection).

This term has been bouncing around in my head for months now, in terms of my own "true north." 

I have listened to many voices in my lifetime, most not my own. I have done things that I thought I should do, based on who I thought I was. Some of it was resonant with me, the inner me, a lot of it dissonant, or just confused, as in, "is this really what I believe, or only what I have accepted?"

It has only been recently that have felt the glimmer of ME getting stronger, more sure. Many experiences and situations have contributed to this growth, this emergence of me. Nearly all I am grateful for. All have been gifts. 

I have read and been told to look back at who I was as a child, to find pieces of who I truly am. This makes tremendous sense to me, resonates with me, if you will. These are the truths that stand out right now, some from my childhood and some more recent realizations:

 1) I have always liked to make things, create things, and give them as gifts. I can remember one autumn being inspired to paint. I found a bunch of pieces of scrap 1' x 12" shelf ends from shelves my dad had made for us. I took them, spread newspaper all over the floor in my bedroom, and painted on them with my mom's acrylic paints. I mixed my own colors and did my own designs. I don't remember the subject matter well, mostly flowers and trees, I think, and that the colors were all pastels. I gave them as gifts to my parents, grandparents and all of my aunts and uncles. Something close to 20 pieces I created. I was about 8.

2) Living simply feels good to me, especially with regard to food. I like growing food, freezing and canning it, putting it by, if you will. In our current day, where convenience is often key, convenience foods leave me with a hollow feeling. 

My daughter's small friend Rose, has been a window into my past. Rose is passionate about all things "Little House on the Prairie," and so was I. Rose is 6 and loves to dress in old time clothing, is learning to cook, likes to wash dishes for her mom (at least for now). I came upon the Little House Books a little later than Rose, but not much. And I read them over and over again and yearned for simple times when handmade gifts were all there was, and putting food by for winter was critical. 

3) I take tremendous pleasure in making new things of those that are old and discarded or about to be. One of my favorite projects was rehabbing two wooden outdoor table sets. Sanding, gluing, replacing rotten boards, and eventually painting them. I wish I had photos. I did this in my San Diego days, and sold them when we moved east...made money on them too:-)

4) Family and quality of home life are key to me. My home is becoming more and more my sanctuary, and I want it to feel that way to my family, and to our guests. I love having friends and relatives grace our home, feeding them, relaxing with them. More of this in our home would be good.

5) The quality of the interactions in my life, the journey itself, are more important than the destination. It has taken me a long time to come to this truth...I have been very goal or destination oriented, oftentimes without really knowing where "there" was. The right here and now is key.

I think there's a part of me that has always known that I was this person...this person who loved home and family and simple things above all else. I just couldn't see how this could translate into making a living, in sharing in the financial support of our family. I'm still not sure how this will work, but I now believe it's possible. It will be interesting to see what's next.

Where's your true North? If this type of journey is something that speaks to you, post a comment, and a link if you like.


Miranda said...

Sounds like me! Don't forget that by being this way and living simply, you are being frugal, which saves a lot of money. Which in my mind means I am "making" the equivalent "income" when I do something for us rather than buying it. Our culture just does not value the home economy like it should!

Diana said...

Miranda, this is a good point, and it's taken me awhile to value that contribution.

Patrick just left his job and the inherent stability that comes with being an employee and is now an independent contractor, which we have done before, but always with me as a significant contributor to our income. It will be better in many ways for us, but leaves me feeling a little anxious...which will pass:-)

Lori ann said...

A very lovely post. It's a wonderful thing to follow your star. It gets easier as you get older i think. I love all those things you've mentioned as well.

Jane said...


This post so resonates with me. I've struggled for such a long time with the idea of finding out who the real me is and what it is that I'm meant to do here.

My husband and I call each other "my North".

I too found myself making a mental list of all the things that make me feel "at home" with myself and my list is very similar to yours. I love to make things with my hands and I'm totally connected with giving beauty to old, discarded objects. I think I see a bit of myself in the furniture pieces that I pick. I also like the simple life. I could live on a farm out in the middle of nowhere with no TV or cell phone and be quite happy.

I think it would be fun if you introduced a Little House on the Prairie book to your daughter's friend. She's probably like that :)

Diana said...

Lori, I so agree. The older I get, clearer I get, and the less I care about what anyone else thinks.

Jane, I love that you call each other "my North," So very sweet!

Toyin O. said...

The journey of life is surely more important than the destination.

affectioknit said...

I loved this post! We live where we often see the Northern Lights - so I loved the photo - and I loved the Little House books too - I think I was 9 the first time I read them...

sarah said...

I feel a little like the last kid to cross the finish line, hours later...just dug in and found the post where you mention sweet Rose. The other day she was all about making "food we can have when we need it.". She took some yellow split peas left from soup stock, mashed them, added oregano, formed them into little patties and stuck a container on the freezer. Now, how can I bear discarding that??

My North is increasingly by the metaphorical hearth. As far and wide as I have travelled and worked, I value my/our nest best. I love making it more comfy and beautiful....and I treasure time spent here with daily and dear friends like you and Helena, Diana!