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.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Wake UP Be NICE, REPEAT

Change is difficult for me. I've noticed (about myself) that I generally resist change... I struggle with the notion that something is changing, then after I've had my initial objection, I adapt and make peace with the recalibration. There is a feeling of insecurity that comes for me with the concept of change. I grew up in a family that moved often and the process of losing and making new friends combined with the overall dysfunction of my natural family system instilled a sense of insecurity. This year, I am braced for a series of changes, and while I genuinely look forward to what I see on my horizon, it is also with an quiet knowing that stress is often the best friend to change.


A girlfriend who worked at my office resigned a week ago to move to another (less stressful) working environment. She is a giving and deeply thoughtful person whose great strength is making people feel special. I was glad that she had the opportunity to move onto something that would bring her more fulfillment, yet there was some discomfort for me in knowing that I would have to say goodbye to sharing my workday with her. I knitted for her a cup cozy, so she would feel wrapped in friendship as we said our best wishes.


Running in to Banana Republic to exchange a sweater this week, I admired a saying their Visual Designer had scribbled onto a wall that had previously held shirts. "Yes!" I thought, as I snapped a photo of it to text to my son. This small phrase encapsulates my 3-day work-week like my personal mission statement.


How often the third step is missed in the work-place as we scurry about our business days trying to accomplish the second. I often will say that I like "the easy button", but I believe that what I really mean, is that I like things... people... to play nicely. It is not challenge that I resist, but the unpleasantness (and exhaustion) of people who don't play well with others.


Whether the cup ends up holding her coffee or the pencils on her new desk, I hope the thought that I made it especially for her wraps her heart with a sense of friendship.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Road of Good Intentions is Long

Good intentions. We all have them from time to time, and I would venture to say... even most of the time. Despite the ugliness I occasionally see in the world, I still have a core belief that most people are well-intentioned at heart. I have been hurt by people I care about along this road of life as, I am sure, so have you, but I still believe that (for the most part), it is rarely by intention.


I have great intentions at times that I don't fulfill. I have dreamed great dreams that I didn't pursue, or made resolutions I failed to keep. If I express I promise, it's as good as gold... but those good intentions... (for some reason) seem to lack the commitment of an actual verb. There's no go with a great intention.


They say that it's the thought that really counts, and I would agree that there is deep and meaningful value in the thought. Yet we can intend to do a vast amount of good in this world, and never change a single thing with only our thoughts. In order to have a relevant impact on the world, or even our own lives, action is the thing that is required.


Organizing my knitting office recently, I came across a couple of mostly-finished projects I had intended to finish. I had purchased extraordinary fiber, spent hours pouring over pattern instructions, then for whatever reason, became distracted with what I had initially set out to do. My intention was not nearly enough, for without the commitment to follow through, it drifts away on the wind of a new distraction like dandelion seed on the breeze.


The Road of Good Intentions points as far as as you can see, but I would venture to say, that it doesn't really lead to anywhere. Whatever we set out to do or accomplish... when I think about my relationships, my ministry work, my job, my knitting.. requires attentive and voluntary action. Success doesn't always come easily, but things of lasting value rarely do.


Is there something you have always intended to do? With a little commitment, intention can become the next great something.




Monday, January 26, 2015

Life is Busy But Things Can Wait

Life is busy. It seems like there is simply never enough time to do everything I really want to do... which is crazy to me because most of my life I managed a full-time career, while juggling the responsibilities of also being a full-time wife and mother.  As I look back now, I wonder how I managed to do anything else at all. Scaling back to only 3 days a week, it seems like I should have plenty of time for extras, yet I find myself week after week, rushing to fit in all the seeds I've planted on my mind and heart that week.


New Year's Eve, I cast-on the first row for a cardigan I am making for my son. The yarn is a gorgeous 100% mink in the richest sea-water blue, and it knits into the softest imaginable fabric. The strand is a very fine gauge and the color is dark, so the pattern knits up slowly (yet wonderfully) as I knit and purl fine rows of even stockinette stitch on narrow US5 needles.


And the timing of the project seems lengthy as I make my way slowly from one perfect row to the next, clicking in repetition to the anticipated goal of 16 1/4" from my cast-on edge before I receive my next  instruction. I sit working on the project for a couple of hours, then look it over appraisingly to assess the length I think I may have added over the span of those hours.


It is then I am reminded that I need not worry about the timing. I adore knitting and I love knitting for people I care about. Each row I complete with this incredible mink is clicked out with thoughts of my son. I am passionate about this act of creating, and there is blessing in having the time to do this thing I love. Somehow, I will find time to do all the little things I need to do, but for just this moment,  I will take time to hold him in my heart as I knit and purl for him. Sure, life is busy... but I don't want to miss what really matters to me.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Refreshed with Hopeful Expectation

January feels fresh to me this year. Day after day, I have an unshakable sense of 2015 being a season of new beginnings... like the casting on of a brand new project with an amazingly soft yarn after finishing one that had been challenging.


Not that 2014 was necessarily a "bad year", but there were the markings of loss and struggle... times of difficulty and adjustment.


I struggled with things that I had to learn to let go of, and the process was both mournful and freeing. I lost an important friendship, and said my final goodbye to someone I loved. And yet 2014 brought with it fresh beginnings as well.


As I scrolled through the photos on my iPhone, it was like watching my entire year in review. I had times of worry and times of pain. There was joy, laughter and acceptance. The year was so quick, yet looking back the memories seem too much for just one twelve-month cycle, and I guess the span of the last nearly seven years feels much the same way. Roads diverged. Pathways sometimes navigated in twilight and yet still, miraculously guided.


And as I waved a loving goodbye to an entire decade in my life, it feels like maybe there's a whole new thing just dawning on the horizon of 2015. Refreshment. Hope. Joy. It just feels like everything is new.


I have big plans in store for 2015. I see all the little details coming perfectly together... how it all works like it's part of one great master plan. Sure, there will be adjustments to make, but this joy that has grown in my heart feels like welcoming home a long lost friend.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year! Whooo-Hooooo!

2015. A new year has begun, and I ponder the meaning. Each year, the big NYE celebrations are spotlighted, and Hollywood has long set up heavy expectation for midnight on the last day of the year. Yet year after year (really since I was only in my teens), I have felt oddly the same as the day before and with that realization, has come the annual impression that I missed something the night before. My life is abundant. I have (really) more than I need to survive, a wonderful husband and a beautiful family. The hoopla of NYE, in my opinion, is more hype than is required for the turning of one year into another. I suppose we can reflect on the events of the previous year, or look with learned expectation and optimism forward into the span of months ahead. Yet, I am still happier living each day as an individual unit... without the baggage of yesteryear or the impatient heavy expectation for tomorrow.


Over the holidays, I had opportunity for some extra time off, so I finished the Big Bad Wool Cardigan I was knitting for our little guy. White (for some reason I can't explain) is his favorite color yarn (if nearly-5-year olds have a favorite yarn color), and he had asked me to make for him a white sweater.


About half-way into the project, he found a remnant of blue alpaca left over from a cardigan I made for his uncle, and asked me to add a little blue to his sweater.


It was a simple modification of the pattern, so I opted to add two indigo stripes of the alpaca to his left sleeve, and kept the garter stitch pattern in stripe.


I thought the Big Bad Wool buttons were a bit oversized for the child-sized cardigan, so I chose instead an eclectic assortment of hand-made buttons (found on Etsy), and added an extra button to the front closure.


Adding a "Wear it Out" tag behind the shoulders, and blocking to give it a little stretch, my little guy's sweater was ready for battle.


As we move away from 2014 and into this new year, it is without a sense of any major regret. Any decision I made (or failed to make) last year has led me to the place where I am today, and as I look back at my yesterdays, I know they have prepared me for what is next to come.


But for now, all I have is today, and I am grateful for that.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Making Room at Christmas

It's Christmastime. A short two weeks ago, on a Wednesday night, one of our pastors was speaking about Christmas, and mentioned it was two weeks away. My husband and I looked at each other in shocked realization... we had done very little to prepare as the holiday seemed to sneak right up on us.


I love Christmas. As a child living in the midwest, I remember the electric-powered candelabras my mother would place in our windows at Christmas. I would stand, face pressed close enough to my upstairs bedroom window to create fog on the glass, watching the snow in the illumination of the street lights. Excitement would keep me from any meaningful sleep as I waited for with a hopeful heart.


Sometime in my youth, my family moved west, and Christmas would come to my heart with a little more difficulty. Without the obvious change in Season to click down the days to December 25th, Christmas felt oddly early, and the stereotypical lyrics sounded... well, kind of silly.


Over the years, I've come to rather enjoy Christmas in +64 degree weather. It is invariably sunshiny on a Las Vegas Christmas Day, and I love not having to worry about needing a coat when we venture out. Our tree is adorned with decoration that reminds us of those we love, and the life we've made together.


There are memories of Christmas past... and things that represent our lives today.


My little guy helps me with each preparation, and I see the "spirit" of Christmas swell fully in his adorable heart. He carefully wraps a gift he selected for his Papa, and I see his excitement as he places it beneath the tree. It's his first experience with giving.


I know that Christmas isn't about sparkling blankets of white on our lawn. As the Grinch in the childhood story finds out, "it comes without ribbon... it comes without tags... it comes without packages, boxes and bags."


It will come, with the richness and wonder of it's glorious meaning.