Find Your Knitting Project

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To remind myself of simple beauty, I’ve begun knitting again. I was never a knitting maven; I made one scarf in high school. I was reminded of the scarf after wandering by a yarn shop week after week. Eventually, curious, I went inside.

I perused the selection of yarns, fingered acrylics and wools, stared at notion boxes, needles, and handmade items. Confronted with a treasure trove of things-knit-and-crochet, returned emotionally to a time and place where simple was the word of the day if I allowed it, I experienced joy.

Convinced of the benefits of reactivating this skill, I scoured the internet and discovered a pattern labeled “beginner.” It seemed doable. I printed it and proceeded to decide on yarn. The first choice wasn’t available, nor my second, nor my third. Undaunted, I selected a wool, dyed in an assortment of colors from the same family of hues, and placed my online order. I waited eagerly, knitting needles from the yarn store I’d passed time after time in hand.

I sat down to begin the project, eager to experience relaxation, anticipating a moment of Zen.

My first glimpse at the pattern hadn’t revealed what became obvious upon serious reviewing: the instructions were written in what seemed to be Sanskrit

The wool arrived not in a skein, but looped. This was different.

I was one-for-three with the stitches I thought I knew.

I thought I remembered how to cast on. I did not. I also did not know how to bind/cast off.

In the end, I translated the pattern, balled the yarn, taught myself one casting method, two stitches, and, when I had knitted the appropriate number of rows/length, a lovely method for casting off.

Yes, I had my moments of not believing I was capable. Yes, it was a knitting project. Failure was certainly an option. I decided I would not fail, and I did not.

We control what we can, where we can. In so doing, we empower ourselves.

Find your knitting project.

Once More, With Purpose

A couple of days ago, as I lay in bed, I thought I was dreaming.

You have a reason to live.

said the voice. There was no setting. No windows or doors. No walls, floors, ceilings. Just an expanse of beige. The voice repeated

You have a reason to live.

Wherever I was, I was alone. The words came, again and again.

You have a reason to live.

You have a reason to live.

You have a reason to live.

I opened my eyes and rolled over. I added a note to my phone because as persistent as the voice was, I wasn’t convinced I’d remember the statement once the fog of sleep had lifted.

I puzzled over the whats and whys. There was a time I believed I knew who I was meant to be. I followed the path, lived the life, existed in the skin of someone who contributed to the world. I let that path go to follow the next, and, in the process, I went from a calling to something other.

The problem was I never found my footing when I shifted focus from calling to something other. And, as you might guess, eventually, “something other” abandoned me.

Even with the abandonment, I found strength and saw opportunity, the power to push through, a chance to get to the next next thing – which I pursued sometimes eagerly, sometimes halfheartedly, sometimes barely. I clung to each small victory, clutched minor successes, held tight to hope, but thanks to algorithms and minimal human interference, I find I’m trying to get there from here.

I didn’t believe my psyche scarred by the hunt, by the attempts that have amounted to month after month of effort for nothing more than the occasional near miss (though, in retrospect, had to my body feel the dings and stings). But hearing those words

You have a reason to live.

reminded me I have to push on.

Today’s takeaway: You decide who you want to be at this moment, and the next, and the next. Today, I decide to I want to be a person with purpose. I have a reason to live.

 

 

Mind Full

Filled with useless scenarios and emotional residue, our minds are wonderous, special, and sneaky. Our minds like to fixate on the scary, the awful, the past, the future – anywhere but the here and now. Mindfulness stops us from thinking about things we shouldn’t be thinking about, things that have happened or might happen or could happen. Mindfulness keeps us from building imaginary coulda/shoulda/wouldas and forces us to stop and focus on where we are, what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, what we’re experiencing.

Mindfulness is a phenomenonal tool whose beauty isn’t restricted to dedicated meditation. Try a mindfulness exercise during your morning routine. What happens as you wash your face? Is the sensation of water different it splashes on and/or as it drips off? What does it feel like? Is the temperature constant – or does it change?

For example:

The face wash is cool.

My hands are warmed by water.

My face is wet.

The water grows warmer.

The air is cool.

The towel is soft against my skin.

Mindfulness, living in the moment, the moment of any given activity, brings clarity. Try it. You’ll see.

New Year, Things to Do

Happy 2017! The year ended on a series of rough notes, but here we are, still standing. And with a new year comes the opportunity for new ways of tackling the messy work of living. In the process of  obsessing actively engaging with the notion of bending the world to my will starting the year off right, I realized I hadn’t done my 2016 housekeeping. No, I’m not talking about dusting or polishing the furniture (although, truth told, I should probably get to it) – I mean listing the accomplishments of the last year.

Why bother?

Well, we’re very good at locking eyes and staring deeply into the craggy face of our failures, but how often to we do the same with the sunny visage of our successes? I mentioned cataloging accomplishments here, but with the start of 2017, if you haven’t managed a comprehensive list of What You’ve Done, you should get to it immediately. I suspect that list will prove you’ve conquered more challenges than you realized.

So shuck the resolutions and get to the revolution. You are primed to succeed. Your time is now.