Brick by brick

Some days are tough.

I know my stories, most of them. I know the story about Tiffany-the-entrepreneur. I know the story about Tiffany-the-helper. I am learning the story about Tiffany-the-stepparent.

But knowing the stories doesn’t always mean it’s easy to hold onto them. And even when you can hold onto them, there are times when you just need a break. When building a thing – this website, this business, this life – is heavy and each brick sits uneasily on the last because I just haven’t quite figured out how they fit together yet.

In those moments, I have a few reliable tools at my disposal.

I can go for a walk, if the weather is good and the kids will tolerate it.

I can make some tea, though honestly this doesn’t help like it used to – I don’t have the tea nook that I did in the house I was in before, and it’s always a bit messy, and my desk serves multiple functions and the table is always full of stuff, so the ritual of tea is something I need to reinvent for myself within this environment. I’m good at reinvention, but reinvention takes time, and energy. It draws on the well, it doesn’t fill it.

I can write, if it’s quiet enough.

And I can build Lego.

More and more, Lego has become both a metaphor for the way I’m currently approaching narrative, and one of my most effective self-care strategies. The little Lego photo shoots I’ve done for this website, and the act of building Lego, have given me new tools and new language.

I build Lego differently than my partner does. I like to divide all my pieces up by type and colour, and then build. He dumps them out in a pile and sorts as he goes. That, too, is a rich metaphor – the different paths that arrive at the same destination. The value in that variation.

The last few months have been challenging. Launching a business is quite a significant task, learning to be a stepparent is quite a significant task. I work two, sometimes three, part-time “day jobs” and am trying to turn this into a full-time, sustainable career.

My youngest stepkid was diagnosed with autism in December, and that has been an emotional and challenging process – figuring out whether to use the same therapy team for her as we use for my older stepkid, trying to get a handle on the differences in autism in young girls (and feeling so much pain and grief for her, for the way autism stigma hits girls so hard – girls who are supposed to swim in that toxic soup of sociable femininity).

But still, I build.

Brick by brick, I build.

Lay all the pieces out, look at the plan, take it one action at a time.

Right now, I’m trying to get this website launched.

Brick by brick, page by page.

We’re getting there.