Monday, May 11, 2015

The Dangerous Slope of Comparison

The source of all discontentment, I told my kids, is comparison. So why is it that we can't seem to help ourselves from the endless and compulsive comparing?

Lacking my own wisdom, I found myself sitting at my desk one morning last week thinking thoughts of self-loathing. I hated my look, my outfit. I look fat, old and tired, I thought to myself. I am relatively certain that I actually looked pretty close to the same way I did just four days earlier, when I felt adorable...yet I couldn't help myself from telling me that everything had taken a nose-dive while I slept overnight.

We compare ourselves to our others, and we compare ourselves to a "better" version of ourselves. Perhaps a version that is younger, thinner, more successful, or just generally happier. Each comparison leaves us more convinced that we are somehow less than we really are.

I find from time to time that I do the same thing with my knitting. I over-scrutinize the details of my seaming, or lay aside a garment less than thrilled with the fit or color, only to pick up up again sometime much later and wonder what I found displeasing in my work. Searching the pattern of a fine lace trim, I'm completely unable to find what I once thought was unmistakeable error.

Two days later, wouldn't you know, I felt completely like myself again. Who knows what clouded my may have been a dream, some random interaction, or a hormone imbalance. Yet when I look upon the work my maker has done in me, I am perfectly comfortable with who I am.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Learning to Articulate What I Know by Heart and Hand

And so there it is. I know you have done it too. Perhaps you have driven somewhere so familiar that you can get there (no problem) so long as you are driving, but when faced with the need to write down the're lost.

And so it is with the coffee cozy. A quick knit, adorable, and always well-received, I have knitted these several times as gifts. I can knit one (shhhh!) during the course of two hours while watching TV at night. There are times when things are so familiar, that they come to us (seemingly) instinctively.

When these became the rage a year or so ago on Pinterest, I decided to knit a few as thank-you gifts for some friends who had helped me organize a large event. Over the last year, I've knitted a few as gifts for other occasions, making adjustments for practicality as needed. Finally, I was asked if I had a pattern.

I decided to see if I could write out the instructions, without actually (driving there). Pen in hand, I thought about the neat rows of knit and purl combinations and began to scribble from memory, but I found I wasn't confident in whether I remembered all the "street names" that would lead me to my metaphoric mother's house. Reaching for a remnant ball of yarn, I cast on as my (now) written instructions commanded. At the end of the 3rd row, I turned my work, consulted my notes, and realized that I would already need to make some edits.

This afternoon in my car, I passed a street I recognized as the street name where a long-time friend of mine had lived. Signaling for a turn, I decided to see if I could find her home by sight. Within seconds, I was turning my car around in the culdesac where she had lived the fifteen years of our friendship. Then I thought of the pattern for my cup cozy. So often we just know where something is, or how to prepare our favorite dish, or the lyrics to our favorite song...but the question of articulating how is a whole new exercise for our mind.

What do you know by heart, but can't remember by name?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Well Done Thy Good and Faithful Servant

She left the world a better place, and I am a better person for the simple fact that I knew her. She loved me, not for anything that I had done or earned, but just for who I am.

In her sunset years, she would sometimes forget who we were for a moment or two, but we didn't mind because we were grateful for the privilege of having her for another day. My mother in law, Jane, (or Mum, as everyone called her) was a beautiful soul. She was the closest thing to Jesus' character I have ever experienced. She chose to love greatly, and each time we said goodbye, she made sure to look closely into my eyes while holding my hands, to tell me how much she loved me and how special she believed me to be. There was no casual wave with a carefree shout of goodbye across the room with Mum. She loved us because we were hers.

One year ago this week, my mother in law slipped from the world the way everyone hopes they will. She very simply was here one moment, and then she was no more. In the hours and days that followed, we remembered her with joy and thanksgiving for the wonderful life she led and all she gave from the little she had.

Mum lived a life of opulence in all the ways that really matter. Hers was a simple (yet profoundly purposeful and beautiful) life. On the day we said our final goodbye, our sadness was buffered with the joy and thankfulness of the favor of calling her our own. I will remember her lovingly and thankfully always, for I am changed for the experience of being Mum's.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Love What You Do

"Love What You Do" says the reclaimed artwork that looms over the credenza in my knitting studio. It's nestled on the wall right next to another that says, "She BELIEVED she could, so she DID." And then there is the little plaque that greets me each morning on my nightstand to remind me:

Dear You,
Now is the time to follow your heart's 
deepest calling.

Each of these bits of literary artwork inspire within me a sense of hope and encouragement. We all need encouragement from time to time, and if you're even a little like I am, you're probably the first to abandon yourself and your dreams when the going gets tough or when emotions are low.

My son sent me a short text note over the weekend. It was just a simple, "I am missing you" message, and I responded in kind. He grabbed ahold of his dream for entrepreneurship last year, and I watched him awe-inspired as he grasped it with abandon. I've been toying with this dream and idea of working within the knitting industry for a few years, but logistics and the economy have kept me from moving forward. At times, I find myself feeling deeply disappointed at my inaction, yet at the same time, I know that I also greatly value my personal freedom. I expressed my quandary to my son.

Without skipping a beat, he served up words of encouragement and a suggestion for how I might have it all and have it all work.  

It has given me new direction... a sense of refreshment within my spirit. I want to start, immediately, and I see nothing in my way.

Sometimes, everything you need is right at your just need a fresh perspective.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Finding the Light at the End of the Tunnel

These last couple of days... yep, they were those kind of days when you begin to feel strangely like yourself again after what feels like a long and desperate storm. After a solid month of rushing from moment to moment to take care of the details surrounding our move, my husband and I had a weekend that left us feeling like... well... ourselves again!

Sensing that I was at my threshold of overload, my husband spent the day on Saturday just helping me hang pictures and move out some boxes from our front rooms. I'm not sure what tipped him off. Perhaps it was the wide glossy crazy eyes, or a permanently furrowed brow. We decided before our move to change the furnishings of the front room, but hadn't yet acquired what we wanted, and so that entire half of the house sits in an awkward disarray.

Saturday, after hanging some art, we ventured out to purchase the furnishings. Stopping for lunch at one of our favorite weekend spots, we enjoyed some unseasonably warm sunshine, then trekked across the city to our favorite furnishings shop. Finalizing our selections and scheduling delivery, we felt we had turned the corner on the progress of our move. The listing for our previous home was finalized, and we were knocking out the details needed to truly settle into our new home.

Sunday morning, I reacquainted myself with my knitting. Whispering "I hope I remember how to do this" at my husband, I consulted notes I made in my pattern before our move.  It was as if I had never spent 4 weeks away from the needlecraft I love, and I sat clicking through rows of decreasing knits and purls while listening to the day's message.

After service, my little guy and I shared some "crack nuts" on the playground while we sat in the sun. It was good to just enjoy some of the simple pleasures of our life before the move.

The weekend was exactly what I needed in every way, and left me encouraged that everything just may be long as we walk through it together. And, that light I see at the end of the tunnel... it really isn't a train.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Help! Our Move Ate My Life!

My life has been consumed with moving. Over the last four weeks, every waking moment of my life has been filled with have-tos. It has been an emotionally and physically exhausting endeavor to transition from our home where we have lived for sixteen years to a new home 40 minutes across town.

Each room of the home we left was like a time capsule. Packing was the arduous process of sifting through years of "awww, we need to keep this" to "where did this come from?" There were trophies from every imaginable sport the children played, yearbooks they left behind, binders of school work and adorable writings from a child's perspective which commanded to be preserved. 

And not one detail transpired with ease... not one. The refrigerator (delivered 3 weeks after move-in) doesn't work, and as we scramble every other day across town to our former home to make it ready for listing, the tasks are both overwhelming and difficult.

I long for a moment to pick up my knitting, stretch through a class of Pilates, enjoy some leisurely reading or journal my thoughts on my blog. Running to Target with my little guy for cleaning supplies and little things we need feels like a sinful pleasure.

This afternoon, I headed out for a half-hour guitar lesson... a guilty reward for the weeks of hard work, and time away from my instrument. Yet ten minutes into the compute for my lesson near our old house, I realized I hadn't placed my guitar on the seat next to me in the car. I called my husband to vent about just (really) how difficult the simplest of things have become. Finishing our call, the bluetooth in the car switched back to radio with Mandisa singing, "...He knows, that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger!" I smiled at the irony (irony?) of the timing.

I would love to say that the rest of the day ironed out just the way I would have loved for it to be,  but this isn't a blog on fiction. Yet when the struggle was over, my husband brought home dinner, poured for me a glass of Pinot Noir, and gave me a moment to just sit and put my thoughts together...and this tiniest of minutes, just to pour myself out in my blog, has been the bit of medicine my heart needed., where did I unpack those knitting needles?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Packing Boxes Filled with Memories

We were not in the market for a new home. Yet, in January, my husband and I found ourselves making an offer on a residence across town. Having raised our family in our 2-story home, our kids have since started their own families, oddly enough I always thought, on the other side of town. A half-hour's drive across the city, they have often teased about having us move closer to them in order that they may have easier access to us.

Now that escrow has closed and we have the keys to our new home in hand, it is time to begin the arduous task of packing a home that has known us for nearly seventeen years. My youngest son has been away from home for six years, so I thought beginning in my youngest son's bedroom would be the easiest place to start.  A full six hours later, I began to feel the overwhelm of the task before me.

His room was like a time capsule for a span of years encompassing the bulk of his life. Within the drawers and closet shelves I found remnants of our life together... projects, artwork, cards, photographs, and trinkets that held the history of his story growing up.

Within the space of four walls, I saw glimpses of pivotal moments in his life. There were pictures of trips we had made together and travel he had done alone. I found snip-its of encouragement I had offered him in areas that held for him personal struggle, children's stories wherein I had scribbled some words of love or a wish for what was yet to be, evidence of great accomplishment and growth, and shadows of some of his hours of grief and pain.

There were little stories he had written through the eyes of a very small child, and papers from his years in college.  Nestled next to his dresser was a small fortune in AP study guides and texts on how to write college entrance essays.

It was an exhausting day of sorting through drawers and corners of paper and trinkets, yet this process of re-experiencing each moment was a gift I didn't know I had waiting for me behind the double glass doors leading to the room where he spent his years at home.

We grow and change in a lot of ways, but I find that (mostly) who we are at our core simply matures. I have loved each stage of my life with this boy... and while I am looking forward to this new chapter of making memories in our new home across town, I will hold tightly to the memories I made with my family in this place we called home.