Monday, July 14, 2014

Soaking Up Life without Saturation

Sometimes, life feels like a rush of water, gushing over the rocks and saturating the colors.  Once it's wet, it all starts to look the same.  We have dry "beds" of river rock at our home in the city, and the rocks are a vast collection of hues when they're dry.  Yet once they become saturated with rain or sprinkler water, they all begin to look the same muddied tone.

I just need to sit in my favorite spot (or in any spot for that matter), and listen to the sound of my heart... letting the movement of life settle down and the colors return to the things and people around me.

Most of the time, I'll chose to knit... or strum on my guitar... just letting my heart return to that shape that makes me who I am.  I may take in the wild-life at our home on the mountain, watching the birds share seed with chipmunks and squirrels.

Or enjoy a rare sighting of a wild brown bear.

I look out over the meadow, breathe in the cool fresh air, and I feel restoration of my body and soul.  As I take in the wonder of it all, it never fails to amaze me what our creator can grow out of the hardest of things.

For surely, if he can do that...  the seemingly scattered and troublesome details of my life must be a breeze in comparison. Feeling refreshed, I fully receive a heart-full of gratitude in my soul for the blessings of my life.

And send off a breath of wishes about tomorrow.

Monday, June 30, 2014

All Roads Lead to Who You Are

Our little mountain home is where we retreat... we call it the treehouse because it is nestled along the ridge of the pines.  It's a place where we find relief from the Summer heat and the everyday busy-ness of life.  During the long months of Vegas Summer, I plan my whole life around our weekends at the cabin.

It is here where we can let the whole world fade away with all its concerns, challenges and demands for attention and time. I love to just sit in our favorite spot by the window or out on the deck, watching the wildlife who come for a little oats or seeds.

The weather was especially beautiful on our most recent trip.  We love to ride the quads... taking in the sites and enjoying the trails.

Exploring a few places we hadn't been before, we came upon a spot that reminded me of poetry by Robert Frost.

His poem is often mistaken as a proclamation that choosing the one path over the other has made all the difference, but the poet had intended instead to jab a bit at our tendency for indecision and to attribute more meaning to things than they may deserve.  No matter the poet's intent, his work has inspired many to consider taking responsibility for their journey in life, and the outcomes that they create.  Sometimes, what we intended matters less than the result. For clearly, Frost's poem continues to inspire others in decision making.

Yesterday, I was tackling a new technique with knitting buttonholes. The pattern instructions didn't make sense to me, and I had to tink back the work once having misunderstood the directions. After a short break to consider the pattern, I decided to move forward with my knitting to see what would happen. In my day to day life, I want to live intentionally... purposefully. Sure, I will make mistakes, but along the way, I know that I'm living my personal best and that everything I've done up until now, has brought me to the person I am today.

And I can live with that.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Life Can Be Hard, Pick Up and Knit

Life's hard. Sure, there are times when things seem to roll pretty easily from day to day, and other days when everything is a struggle. It seems like just about the time we settle in to feeling like we're smooth sailing, a storm will catch us by surprise. It is times like these when I crave the comfort of my own small little world.

Sometimes, I just want to know where I'm going...  why life is leading me down this little path.  What is there for me to learn?

I look up for guidance... inspiration... truth and comfort.  It's hard during those times when our stomaches are in knots, and we don't know what to do.

I am on the home-stretch of making a cardigan for my son.  I have knit all the individual pieces (the back, front sides, and sleeves), and now I begin the process of reattaching the pieces together by "picking up and knitting" the finished edges, so they can be rejoined by a border of ribbing around the neckline.

It's a beautiful mess of pieces lying in wait of becoming all it is intended to be, and it is a long process, while I pick up and knit this seemingly pile of disjointed parts.

I realize it's at these same times in my life, when I just long to be together. I want to run to the comfort of just being near those with whom I am safe... for it is with them, I can look through the port holes of life and make some sense of just "being".

I know that life is a journey.  Sometimes, things get messy, but the one who guides me can make beauty of the mess.

I just need someone to hold my hand, as we pick-up and knit my way through.

I will look back at this struggle, and something beautiful will have emerged. Like my son's cardigan, no one will ever see the beautiful pile of pieces it was along the way.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Not Surprised the Surprise Party was Perfect

I love surprises. In April, my husband turned the corner on a new decade, and I thought it was fitting to throw him a little surprise party. Gathering a tight group (if you can call a family our size "tight"), we planned over the course of a few months a little trip into Napa Valley.  The April weather is outstanding in Napa, and who can avoid feeling rested in such beautiful surroundings?

I took my husband in a day early, to ensure that he would believe it would be just the two of us. As we were checking out of our hotel the first afternoon, my sister in law snapped a photo of us narrowly missing running into each other.  We had about an hour or two left before our planned surprise location.

When we arrived for our afternoon tour, our family was hiding in plain sight... my husband was truly surprised.

We rented a great B&B for the remainder of our stay. I wanted a place where we could just hang out together in the mornings or evenings when we weren't on tours, and the McClelland Priest was the perfect choice.  A hotel seemed too private, when what I really longed for was a weekend of gathering together.

And when you travel with a group that size, advanced reservations are necessary for restaurants and winery tours.  We had it all set in place, and it couldn't have been better.

We can be a bit goofy when we all get together... whether or not we are drinking wine... which of course, we were.  

I guess the thing I love most about being with family is that relaxed I-can-just-be-me-ness about it all.    Being together makes me feel special... because it's where I belong.

In this world today, families are defined in many ways, and comprised of all kinds of relationships. What makes mine different from yours is all about the relationships that we have each forged for ourselves within our personal sphere.  I have been blessed with great family and wonderful friends.

Most of all, we were there to toast the onset of a new decade for my husband... a great man of strength with tender soul.

And that, is something to celebrate.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Irony of Timing

This past week, my husband and I set off to bid a final farewell to his mom... a woman I admire and will remember with reverent fondness and joy for the remainder of my life.  I had ordered earlier that week a Shoulder Cozy "kit" from Churchmouse Tea & Yarn and it arrived the night we left.  Realizing I would have eight full hours of uninterrupted knitting time on the flight, I packed it and cast on shortly after take-off.

The pattern promised to be a quick knit, and I had ordered it the week before in preparation for Mother's Day.  As I cast-on the first row of the Cozy for my mom, it was not without understanding that my husband would be without his own for Mother's Day this week.

Were I to describe my husband's mother in one word, it would be "grace".  While I have struggled most my life in my daughter/mother relationship, my husband was blessed with a lifetime of really knowing he was loved by his mother.  A gift I suspect that some might take for granted.  

Gathering with my husband's siblings and surrounding family and friends, I finished the Cozy before the end of our brief trip.  It had made good on its promise to be a quick knit.  Having a small amount of yarn left over, I knitted a small flower to embellish the charming shawl.

There is something special about celebrating the long life of a woman like my mother-in-law.  I am humbled and honored to have been blessed with the experience of calling her family, and the love and grace she gave to others has the affect of rippling through the children she raised, and the families they made.  

I hope my own mother is blessed this weekend with the gift of something made with my own hands and heart. I hope she recognizes the irony of the circumstances over the timeframe of which it was made specifically for her.  Although we haven't enjoyed the kind of carefree relationship my husband enjoyed with his mom... I hope she knows that I love her just the same.

In loving memory of Jane Frances Stafford
January 30, 1916 - April 30, 2014
Well done, Thy good and faithful servant.

Monday, April 28, 2014

7 Simple Truths I've Learned from Life

Spring is in the air.  I love Spring.  Everything about it makes my heart soar with joy and new expectations. I adore sitting outside, knitting and sipping a glass of wine, while listening to the sounds of the birds, water and people around me.  It makes my heart expectant of all things new, so I cast-on a new project just to keep in the spirit of the mood.

And yet I know there are those who stay trapped in their own sameness in life... unable to see the joy around them.  As I thought about my life... the people and things I've experienced along the way, seven simple truths came to mind.  There are lessons I have learned from people, and lessons which I have had to learn the hard way on my own.

1.  Once you take out your trash, you do not go out to the curb and drag it back into the house.

2.  The person who has never been satisfied with the positive attention they get in life, will never be satisfied with the negative attention they demand either... don't reward them with it.

3.  Just because someone says something about you...doesn't make it true.

4.  It's okay to let it go. You'll be happier with your peace than your power.

5.  No matter how hard you try, some people won't like you, so don't spend your time trying to satisfy everyone. Be authentic to your true self, and you will be fine. 

6. Relationships are a bit like clothes.  The ones you invest a little more in will last you longer... and it's better to have a few of those than a lot of cheap ones; and

7.  You can't solve an imaginary problem, so don't waste precious time worrying about it.

In the end, I believe it is my purpose to live intentionally in relationship with Christ and others. It can be tricky to balance staying authentic to your self, while still being considerate of others.  

But I believe it's worth the extra effort. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Grateful for the Ability to Bind-Off Knitwise

Sometimes when I'm knitting a sweater, I will change a pattern, ever so slightly.  I may choose to adapt a different technique (for casting on, by way of example) than what is called for in the pattern instructions, or I may adjust something for size or design. Sometimes, just a small detail is enough to really personalize an already-great piece.  My son stopped in to Looped Yarn Works, one of my favorite LYSes, to purchase some yarn as a gift for me.  He chose 2 color ways of Opalescent by Wandering Wool, as it was a locally-dyed yarn.  Loving that, I wanted to make more than a scarf with these two colors, so I chose to knit the Garance sweater.

I loved the feel of the baby alpaca and silk blend as I worked with the fiber through the pattern.  Blending into the darker tone from the lighter, I found the transition to be very complimentary... especially when the effect of the hand-dying made each of the colors naturally gradient.  The sleeves are knitted very long, and then folded at the cuff, and I decided on a whim at the last minute not to stitch down the collar...  leaving it the rolled reverse stockinette.

What I love most about the garment is that I know the yarns were specially selected for me by someone I love.  Each time I wear the sweater, I'll remember that the yarns were hand-dyed by someone in the D.C. area, and I will think about how sweet it was for my son to actually go into a local yarn shop to personally select yarn for his mom.

I began knitting several years ago now, as a way to take my mind off the pain of losing a child.  It is no small understatement to say that knitting never freed me from the agonizing grief, but the process of focusing on the rhythmic tying of knots with yarn and sticks to create garments gave me a little space of reprieve.  Having moved from one project to the next over the years, I can look back upon each of these now and remember where I was in that journey... where I purchased the yarn, who helped me stumble through my beginning moments... the tears that I shed as I was tying my little knots in even rows of knit and purl stitches.

There are still times when the grief will catch me off guard, like last week when The George Washington University notified the parent association that two students had passed away on campus. I feel the pain in my heart for the loss they are experiencing. But most of the time, I have found a way to be me again... deeper for the brokenness, and grateful for the ability to "BO K-wise." (Bind off knit-wise).