Monday, August 18, 2014

The "Magic" of Commitment

I can't help but notice that most everything I really cherish has come to me through hard-work and sacrifice. Hours or even years of relentless and passionate tenacity nearly always yield a prize of incomparable value and joy. It's the stuff that parenting is made of...  the "magic" of a great marriage or career.  It's behind every great invention, accomplishment and talent the world has ever seen.

This week, my son gave me the gift of a visit, although because of the demands and dynamic of his career, I was prepared not to see him for another 3 months.  I had a gift of my own ready for him, and stepped forth in the morning with the box extended in my arms.  He looked up from his work and, with a nod said, "Thanks, I need to finish this."  "No worries", I teased, "It only took me four months to complete."

We have grown to understand each other, and neither of us was offended in the exchange.  The years of tender attention to the shaping of our relationship, and guiding the character and spirit of my child, has led us to a special knowing of each other.

And while it may seem trivial in comparison, it's a tender commitment and hard work also with my knitting that yields a result of which I can be proud.  The gentle shaping of each section of a garment and careful attention to gauge, seaming and fiber are what makes all the difference.

There are times with my knitting when I need to tear back a row or two to correct something because I forged ahead through distraction... or perhaps when the technique I needed required council or more practice. It is no different with life.

Knitting my son's Brooklyn Tweed Slade Cardigan presented me with the challenge of learning a new technique for button holes... and as I knitted the sweater, there were times when I worried about the fit... or simply whether he would like it.

I admit, I worried, too, as I fumbled through this thing called motherhood, whether I was doing a good job.  In the end, it's of no good use for worry.  Both the sweater, and my son, turned out better than I could have imagined.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Exhilaration of Finishing

Finishing is hard... and exhilarating at the same time.  I know a lot of people who are great at starting, and I suppose sometimes I have been a great starter as well.  You know how it goes... we get this big idea in a moment of inspiration and we make a loud start about it.

But life gets in the way... we are filled with distraction... and the next thing you know, we've stopped without finishing.

One of the things I love about knitting is finishing.  I relish the adrenaline surge of putting together a hand-knit piece and admiring the finished garment.  Finishing each individual part of a garment... a sleeve, the right side, the left and back... gives me a sense of gratification and fuels me to start the next component.  Until at last, I can seam together all the parts for the final reward of a well-knitted garment.

And at the same time, that process of finishing a hand-knit garment... that seaming together of the sleeves and sides, and tucking loose yarn ends... is an arduous prospect.  Once I've cast off the last piece and I feel like I'm done, it will still take me a few hours to hand-seam each of these parts into an entity of its own.  No one is the wiser to the hours of painstaking steps it took to create the wonderfully knitted piece once the remnant pieces of yarn strewn across the floor have been cleaned up and put away.

It's the sticking with something that leads to a beautiful completion. Oh, I know there are things we clearly should abandon mid-way... choices we make that were not healthy for us from the beginning, but it's the staying with something that is worthwhile that yields us a prize worthy of our pain and attention.

That commitment to the fine details and preparation shows the world we cared enough to stay with it simply because it mattered to us.

The trick is knowing when to TINK back (just enough) to make the adjustment you need to finish well.

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.