During the recent storms that ripped through Alabama, I found myself hunkered down in our basement. We have unreliable internet in normal weather, so when storms came our internet was virtually useless. This reality is one of the only things that I dislike about being further out into the country.
Until recently, storms do not cause me to feel anxious or worried. I have lived in this area since I was two years old, with a short break living on campus in college. Tornado watches and warnings are something that has been such a part of our annual routine, I must admit I was among the ranks of those that maybe did not take them as seriously as I should. Do not get me wrong, I would shelter in place and take the generally recommended precautions. However, I was not the person that would think about the affects of if the storm actually hit my area. Maybe it is parenthood that changed me. Maybe it is the rural setting that gave me reason to think more about it. Maybe it is residual paranoia from the affects of 2020 and beyond. For whatever reason, the forecast sent my nerves into a frenzy this month. When we moved out here, I started buying the extra waters and canned soups and flashlights to keep on hand. My thinking behind this was that, should something happen and we lose power and water, with our home being as rural as it is, we would be lower on the priority list of having those utilities restored. So, I was prepared for it as far as food and water goes. Lately in our world, it just seems that if it can go wrong, we should be ready and braced for it to go wrong. Maybe that was the heart of my frenzy. I have also wondered if it is because we are finally where we intend to be forever. The idea of what we are working so hard to move forward building being destroyed in minutes is disheartening to say the least. Unfortunately, some people live with that reality each year. My thoughts and prayers are absolutely with them! Well, on the 17th, I found myself obsessively checking weather status updates and going back down to the basement.
Reading this it may seem obvious to you that this would not be the best time to start a project that might have stress attached. Me being, well, me, I did not look at the big picture here. I was in the basement working, and I kept looking at those curtains. I reused the curtains left in the living room from the previous owners and put them on the windows in the basement. (Just to clarify, half of the basement is above ground because of the mountainous area, so we have windows and a door on one side only.) Basement windows are considerably smaller than living room windows, and I needed to tailor them to fit their new location as well as add light-blocking fabric to the back. I have needed to do this since we moved here, but I find those projects sometimes tedious and complicated. And honestly, who wants to hang out inside sewing when there is dirt outside that needs plants?!? As I sat sequestered in the basement with way too much nervous energy, I decided NOW was the time to conquer that dreaded project. Down came the curtains and out came the tape measure. Panels one and two were pressed, cut, pinned, and waiting to be stitched. Now, off to find the sewing machine. It is with the other boxes in the unfinished part of the basement. This is where we are putting the materials that we have for projects we have yet to have time to complete. Machine was found within seconds, but the first hiccup came in looking for the pedal and the power cord. Maybe I should have taken the hint, but not me! I must persevere despite all my anxiety and nervous energy! Cords found, and the sewing was underway. The basement panels actually all ended up going really well. I obsessively measure and re-measure before I cut or stitch, not being the best seamstress around. That took some time, but we were sequestered in the basement without much internet or phone service available.
Done and done, a project checked off the list and the farmhouse looking one step closer to completion. Right? Nay, nay! The basement curtains went so well, and all the needed supplies were already out. Would this not be the perfect time to shorten the bathroom curtain to how I wanted it? Up the stairs with the tape measure we go. Measuring, cutting, and pinning completed easily. This is the point in the project that I am sick of sewing for the moment. I did not have black sewing thread, and I was not about to drive thirty minutes to town during a tornado watch to purchase some. I did, after all, have embroidery thread. Use what you have before you buy new, right? I threaded up the machine and set to work on my LAST PANEL. Immediately, the machine’s safety lock buzzed and stopped the needle. I took everything off and re-threaded, just a little frustrated. Again, the buzzer of doom. I loosened the tension and repeated the process, anxiety rising. A third time, BUZZ. At this point, I was muttering incoherent frustration because what I wanted to say did not agree with my Christianity. I am convinced that my blood pressure was approaching stroke levels, and I could not even find a screwdriver to take the stupid thing apart. The fabric was stuck on the machine, and the bobbin thread looked like a huge spider emerging from under the metal plate, ready to suck my life’s energy away from my soul at any moment. It *MIGHT* would have been a good time to step away and take a breather. But, no! There were storms coming, and I had to work on the most stressful thing I could find!
Bret came to my rescue with a screwdriver, and after I took off the first couple of pieces I remembered to unplug the machine to avoid electrocution. I am really thankful for this momentary relapse into common sense, as the evening had not been heading the right direction up to this point. After a few minutes, my VERY unmechanical self actually did figure out the problem. One miniscule connection was loose inside the machine, and that little miscommunication within the machine was the source of my sewing woes. Incidentally, it is amazing how that could apply in other areas of life, but I digress. I tightened it and miraculously replaced every piece in the correct order, and voila! That final seam was stitched.
We may never replace that curtain even when we renovate the bathroom one day; right now, I am far too invested in that small rectangle of black fabric for it to go anywhere except on the bathroom window where it has been specifically tailored to fit. The storms passed us without anything worse than thunderstorms, just like Bret kept saying. I am thankful for that, while I am so very grieved for those who did not fare as well. At the end of the day, and after a few days to process all the big feelings of that day, I have learned a few lessons and revisited some I should have known.
Lesson One: Be aware, but not panicked. That day was essentially a waste of my time because I spent too much time worrying about something 100% beyond my control. Lesson Two: When you have stress, avoid layering more stress onto it. I would be willing to bet that, had I not already been stressed about the weather, the whole sewing drama would have been completely avoided. My mind would have been better able to adapt and analyze a solution efficiently. Lesson Three: Don’t take yourself too seriously. I was taking everything too seriously that day, and had I been in a better frame of mind, I maybe could have seen the humor in the situation and just how ridiculous it was to put all that pressure on myself needlessly. We only get one shot at this ride of life, and I certainly want to enjoy it. Putting myself in a state of mind like I did on storm day does not make for a joyful life view. I want things perfect, true. I want the house completed, true. But I do not want those things at the expense of my mental health. In retrospect, I would have been much better off getting our old-fashioned DVD player (bad internet, remember?) and snuggling with my little people to watch a silly movie. Final lesson: It all works out in the end. If I had it to do over, would I make different choices that day? Yes. Do I regret the ones I made? Not really, because it has reminded me of a few things that should make the next day like that easier. And, at the end of the day, the curtains were all completed.