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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Do You Think I Was Born a Good Knitter?

My daughter Julie has recently picked up the knitting needles and joined me on my quest to leave no person cold. So far she knows how to cast on and the knit stitch. She can do some simple decreasing with my guidance, but it seems that learning anything from her mother begets frustration, so we've turned to my favorite knitting instructor via YouTube for some help with the teaching. I remember all too well that frustrated feeling during the learning process. It's really that way with learning any new skill, isn't it? We all learn differently and are best reached with different methodologies. It's important to figure out how your brain processes information the best, and try to learn new things that way rather than frustrating yourself trying to learn a skill via a way that doesn't work best with you. Apparently, whatever it is that needs to be learned is best taught to my daughter by someone other than me. I digress.

Part of her frustration has been working for hours on a project and not getting very far, and watching me knit and seeing that I'm a fast knitter and my work is tidy. She finally expressed that to me, and I found myself asking her, "Do you think I was always as good at knitting as I am  now?" That got her thinking. She hadn't considered that there was a time when I was not only not a great knitter, but I was actually pretty bad. The first "thing" I ever tried to knit was like tangible evidence of my frustration and annoyance. I persevered, though. No matter how hard it seemed, I was going to learn this craft. I remember admiring all the brightly colored yarn at Wal Mart in the fall of 2001, and I thought, "I should learn how to make things with this." So, I bought a book that came with everything I would need to get a project made, and sat in my childhood bedroom with my knitting needles and a skein of green yarn. I opened the book and was immediately intimidated by the illustrations. It looked like Greek to me. I decided to break it down and just read everything thoroughly and go slow. Step 1: Casting on. I can do this. About 3 hours later, I was no longer smiling or eager. My hair was disheveled, by eyebrows were furrowed, and I had a white knuckle grip on those aluminum knitting needles. I ended up staying awake all night. Finally at 6am, I had knit two rows and was so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. I fell asleep facedown in the book on my bedroom floor in my flannel I Love Lucy pajamas and didn't wake up until noon. When my eyes finally opened 6 hours later, I felt such a great feeling of satisfaction. I couldn't stop looking at the two rows growing from the knitting needles. I made this! It wasn't anything, but to me it was a milestone. Now 12 years later, if I knit that and had to rip it out I wouldn't bat an eye. Back then, if anyone had tried to take that little bit of knitting off of the needles and pull it out, I would have cried real tears.
Over the next few years, I dabbled. I wasn't addicted to knitting until 2010 when I took a class at a local yarn shop and I made a little apple hat for my then infant son. That is when I really became hooked. I have knit every day for the last 3 years and I've made tons of mistakes. I know I'll make many more as I go forward. In fact, today, I made a mistake in a lace cowl and I "tinked" two rounds to fix it. There was a time when I would have just kept going and hoped that no one would notice the stitches that were out of place, but I can't do that any more. It has to be done correctly. That's how I know I have finally graduated from novice knitter to knitting diva. If I had given up on that night back in 2001, I wouldn't have made the friends I've made over the years. People close to me wouldn't have the hand knits that they have made with love by my hands. And I wouldn't have the satisfaction and euphoria that I do when I finally conquer a technique that I had been struggling with. So even if you aren't the best knitter, bowler, golfer, yogi, or artist in the world the first time you pick up whatever medium you use for your task, don't give up. It takes work and drive to get where you want to go, and you'll get there.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Passive Aggressive Battlefield We Call Facebook

No matter what you post on Facebook, someone is going to hate it. People with even a smidge of intelligence will let stuff go. If they don't want to see your dirty bathroom mirror selfies, they will remove you from their newsfeed or if they are really hardcore about not wanting to see them ever, they will "unfriend" you. People who don't want to see Instagram filter clad photos of your breakfast, lunch, or dinner can hide your posts. These people are mature. They're adults. Social media works for them because they don't let stupid things that shouldn't have any effect on their lives get their undies in a bunch. However, there are people who will read posts or view photos and analyze them until they find something they can be offended or annoyed by. I like to call these people "idiots". Unfortunately, they are everywhere and rarely are we able to put a face on the offender.

Listen, if I change my profile picture or if I post something that my kids of family did that I find amusing, I don't think there is any reason for that to bother anyone. If it does, then by all means, take me off your friends list. I would hate to be the cause of your annoyance. (Actually, I don't really care. If it bothers you so much, we probably aren't really very good friends anyways.)

There is another branch on the Facebook tree of idiots. The people included in this hateful and pathetic club are known to most as having a passive aggressive personality. They will post status updates filled with CAPITAL LETTERS TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS THAT IF THEY WERE ACTUALLY SPEAKING TO YOU, THEY WOULD BE YELLING, and exclamation points. They don't name you or state specific details about what ever you posted that burned their fanny, but they will give just enough vague clues to make you wonder if it's directed at you. These people are immature. They post these things knowing full well there's a good chance someone will be sitting on the other end of the internet reading it and questioning whether or not the passive aggressive is about them. What they fail to realize is that their post could apply to many people and may make someone feel bad when it wasn't meant to. It's meant to make someone feel bad, but we will never know for sure who the negativity was meant for. Who needs people like that? I trust 100% that anyone in my circle of friends is comfortable enough with me to know that if they have something to say, they can say it to me. The most resent passive aggressive update I was a victim of (I think. Could have been someone else) was the most ridiculous and poorly written paragraph I have ever read. Between the punctuation, grammatical, and spelling errors, it actually hurt my brain to read it. This person referred to people he was "calling out" as "retreated". Now, I am not the jack ass whisperer, but considering the tone of his post, I came to the assumption that he meant "retarded". Now that is just opening a can of all kinds of problematic words for me. First of all, no one should call anyone "retarded". My dislike of that word has nothing to do with being politically correct. It's about being a decent human being. I have always had an issue with people who throw that word out there as a means to insult someone. Don't. It's just rude. Second of all, if you're going to be throwing stones like that, make sure you are spelling things correctly and using words in the correct tense. You're sort of making yourself look like what you are calling other people. That just doesn't seem very constructive in my opinion.

I once had a comment made on one of my profile pictures that got under my skin. It was someone I considered a good friend, so I was surprised at the comment, but it was made and I haven't forgotten. She said, "You take good pics...I sure wish I had time to take pictures of myself." The same friend commented on a photo of my cousin before her prom and said, "We all have that one relative that gets all the good genes and you wonder where they came from." It felt to me like an implication that I'm less attractive and it was shocking that I could be related to someone as beautiful as my cousin. Wow. We've all struggled with self esteem at one time or another. The good news is that we are alone in thinking most of the negative things about ourselves. The people who truly love us see the good in us when we can't. When we think we look like crap, other people don't see that at all. We are harsh critics of the reflection in the mirror. No one else is judging us nearly as harshly. Or so we think until someone makes a comment like the two I just mentioned.

Then there are the people who start fights with other friends on my posts. I despise that. If you don't agree with something one of my friends said, feel free to send them a private message and call them out, but don't do it on my post because for one thing, I get sick of the notifications (yeah, I can unfollow the post but someone might say something I actually do want to read) and I get annoyed that you're posting your cranky comebacks on my post for the rest of my friends to see and have their notifications blown up with.  If you think one of my friends is insensitive or uneducated, I don't really care and if you don't know the person you're chewing out, you shouldn't be jumping to conclusions. Anything can be offensive if you take the time to analyze every little thing about it. If that's what you do, man, I feel sorry for you. There's way too much life to live and not nearly enough time to enjoy it thoroughly so what the heck are you accomplishing by being an internet troll with a goal to make other people feel like they should be ashamed of themselves for posting a picture of themselves or telling a story about something you might not find interesting. It's their page. It's their life. If you don't like it, then jangle your jewels out the door and let the people who are trying to lead a life of positivity do their thing.

The people I have mentioned in this post probably just should not take part in social media. Clearly they have missed the point of it. Staying in touch with friends and family and sharing your accomplishments and milestones should not be considered annoying when that's exactly what the social media sites are for. I'm going to post a million photos of my knitting. I'm going to post funny stories, pictures, and videos about my kids. I'm going to complain about Winnie Cooper and declare that I want a pet monkey. I'll probably post links for things that I think are funny or inspirational, too. If that bothers you, then go away. I don't come on your page and mock the things you like or tell people who also know you that you're seeking attention or stupid for the things you post. And like I said, if you can't handle having a social media page, jangle those jewels darling. Your negativity and crappy attitude is not needed up in here.

Do you want to go running?

So I've packed on some pounds over the last few months. Falling off my regular yoga routine hasn't helped at all. When I was going twice a week, I felt awesome. Then I was in my EMS instructor class two  nights a week, and I didn't want to give up more time at home with the kids, so I ended up forgoing yoga for the duration of the class...

I'm now a licensed EMS instructor...but a bit heavier than I would like to be.

There are so many things I could be that are much worse than being fat. I could be mean. I'm not mean. I could be vindictive and jealous or spiteful and rude. I happen to also be none of those things, so I'm trying not to let the fact that even my Thanksgiving pants are getting a little on the tight side get me down, but dang it, it does. I want to be comfortable in my own how do you do that when you aren't?

I started thinking about running again. I used to run all the time and I felt great and healthy and wonderful. Then I thought Satan pulled my ponytail while I was running in the basement on the treadmill and that pretty much took care of that. Yoga is amazing, but if I paired it with running, would it be even more amazing? Maybe. The thought is there. Now just getting my North Face clad butt out into the cold is the task at hand. I'm considering having my daughter dress up in a clown costume to chase me down the street with a bloody knife for motivation to keep going. The cold will also be a good motivator to keep moving. I'm a little concerned about the clown idea though. Would we need to clear that with the PD? How many people would call the police to report a clown chasing a crazy woman running down the street? Or worse: How many people have lived in my neighborhood long enough and know me well enough to not be phased by that scene?

I think I'll take it all into consideration from a comfy savasana on the sofa....and perhaps while I finish the lining of my Michelle hat.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dear Julie: A Letter To My Daughter

When I turned 20, I thought I knew everything.

I didn't.

In fact, I'm seeing things in hindsight with 20/20 vision. I try not to regret, but we all do it whether we want to call it regret or not. There are things as far back as high school that I wish I had done differently. I'm watching my 10 year old daughter dipping her toe into the deep end of the pool and I know it's just a matter of time before she jumps in and I don't want her to sink. I'm considering how much things have changed since I was her age. Electronics and technology is a lot further now than it was when I was in 5th grade. We still had to read actual books. Computers were these high tech and complicated machines that only rich people had in their homes. Anyone with a dot matrix printer was really living a glamorous life. However, if you weren't using it for word processing purposes, chances are the most high tech thing you were doing was losing "Buttface" or "Crotch" (if you named your Oregon Trail characters anything normal, you were a dork.) to typhus or dysentery.

I've thought a lot about what my 30 year old self would say to my 10 year old self...and my 20 year old self...and I realized that these are things I want my daughter to know. I can't experience her life for her. She needs to make her own mistakes and learn from them. She can't learn from mine. But I want her to be prepared for what might come her way. Here is a list for you, Julie.

1. Only speak if you can improve the silence. Don't let your words be hurtful, and if they are, apologize genuinely.

2. Don't trust people's words. Their actions will always show you how they feel. People will say things to get you to do what is best for the. Don't do what's best for them. Do what's best for you. Anyone who loves you truly will understand.

3. Don't be a doormat. Along with doing what's best for you, don't let anyone take advantage of the kindness I've told you to have. Set boundaries and don't let anyone talk you into rearranging them to serve themselves. Don't misunderstand. Help people joyfully and with as much of yourself as you can, but don't let other people's lives become your life.

4. Accept what you can't change, and change what you can. Serenity. When we finally succumb and accept that we can't change the world, you'll have it. It might be hard to watch a friend go through something that you can't fix. Be there. Support and love, but trying to fix all that is wrong with the world and the lives of those around us will only tear ours apart. If something makes you upset or discontent, if you can change it, change it. Don't ask anyone else to do it for you or expect anyone else to be able to. Happiness starts with you. If your happiness hinges on another person being in your life, that's not really happiness. People can leave your life. They will. When you start believing that people will never let you down, you're letting yourself down. Be self sufficient and confident that if you have to do it on your own; you can.

5. Don't change anything about yourself so someone else will like you. If someone expects or wants you to change, then why is that person in your life? Be you so the right people love you. If you do decide to change something, do it because it's what you want to do. Changing for someone else will only make you resent them later if the change isn't what you want. Living a life that is anything less than happy is unacceptable. But it's your responsibility and yours alone for being happy and content. It's unfair to put that on someone else; to you and to them. If your life needs to change, do something. And complaining about it is not 'doing something'.

6. Beware of social media. What you post is there. I don't care if you deleted it. I don't care if you posted it in a moment of anger or sadness. Don't post pictures of your boobs on Facebook. That is not classy, young lady, that is trashy. I expect you to respect yourself so much more than that, and if you don't, then I have failed you somewhere along the way. People need to fall in love with your personality, your laughter, your heart. If you're showing the world wide web scantily clad cleavage, don't expect to win over the person you are going to marry or work for. You're sending a message that you don't have the self respect and modesty to earn anyone else's respect. Anyone who suddenly pays attention to you because you tweeted a picture of your boobs isn't worthy of having the pleasure of your company. And as a side note, dress modestly. Dressing like a streetwalker is like rolling around in manure. You'll attract plenty of attention, but it will be from pigs. Just don't.  Don't post statuses when you are angry in hopes that 'the person' it's aimed at will see it and beg your forgiveness. Don't post details about your personal matters for the world to see. That's begging for attention and attracting drama and that's not cool. If you're reeling from something that happened and you need to 'vent', that's what your friends are for. That's what your mom is for. That's what a diary is for. Facebook and Twitter and whatever else there is out there is not the time or the place. You never know who is going to read it or hear about it, and if you wouldn't put it on a billboard, don't put it on the internet. You will see other girls doing things like this. Perhaps boys do it, too. But you have been raised to be respectful. And I don't mean respectful to elders. I mean respectful to all people, yourself included. *Back tracking to the whole boobs on the internet thing (I just can't stress this enough) so help me, Julie Danielle, if at the age of 18 (which is the EARLIEST you will have a social media outlet) I sign on and see your tatas, I will come and find you, whether you are living under my roof, your own roof, a college dorm, or wherever you may be, and when I show up, I will have cleavage up to my chin and a mini skirt on and make sure that anyone within a 50 mile radius who knows you sees me. If you learn nothing else from your mother, learn this. Be tasteful.

7. Don't pretend to like your boyfriend's taste in music.

8. If someone is mean to you, it's because they have a problem within themselves. Walk away calmly and let them sort out their own issues. And remember, you won't always get the apologies you are owed. It's hard for some people to apologize when they wrong you. Don't let it be hard for you. Let your love and compassion fuel your courage to admit when you are wrong and own up to it. You can't take the memory of hurtful words away after they are said, but you can always apologize and try to restore hurt relationships.

9. Stand up for what you believe in but be respectful of what others believe. You probably won't change their mind; they probably won't change yours. Be thankful that there is diversity in the world because it keeps things interesting.

10. Help when you can. However, if you can't help someone, at least don't hurt them.

11. Don't show your boobs on the internet. Oh did I say that already? Well here, let me just make sure we are clear on this one. Don't show your boobs on the internet.

12. Don't have a "friend with benefits". Again, do you respect yourself? Yes? Okay, then that takes care of that. If someone wants to use you for sex without the commitment, you run away from that person. Your naked body is not an object to be used. Think about how many other people they have done this sort of thing with and then ask yourself if syphilis or chlamydia sounds like a fun time. Or how about HIV or Hep-C? Do you want to be yellow? Do you want to be itchy and in danger of insanity? If you do, there are plenty of other ways to go about that. When you are going to give that part of yourself to someone, give it to someone who deserves it and cherishes it. Anything less is a disservice to yourself. You'll avoid so much embarrassment and humiliation if you don't partake in things like that. You don't have to have sex to prove you love someone. If they can't tell by the way you treat them, then maybe you don't love them and the relationship should end. And if someone tries using that trick on you, then they probably don't love you. Don't accept that.

13. Don't show your boobs on the internet.

14. Don't get a credit card. If you can't afford it, don't buy it.

15. And last but not least, don't be showing your boobs on the internet.

 I think that's all I have for now. I want the very best for you. I love you with every fiber of my being, and I will love you that way always. Your little brother may pester you right now, but someday he will be watching out for you. Don't ever be afraid to tell me when you need me. But know, that most of the time, you won't have to tell me. I'll just know. I'm your mom. Even though you left my body on the day you were born, you left behind a 6th sense that tells me when you need me. I couldn't hide sadness, anger, or confusion from my mom, and you won't hide them from me. I'll know by the sound of your voice and the look on your face.



Friday, November 8, 2013

Random on a Friday

Wingspan. Also not mentioned, but again. Love it.
Whew. I went to Wordpress for a spell, and I really started to miss Blogger. It's a lot more user friendly. Also, I started my Wordpress blog when I was going through sort of a hard time and it's a little more emo and dark than I normally am. Who wants that? Not me! I want to rise above whatever pulled me down in the past and get back to what is important; and that is knitting. My works in progress have diminished since the last time we saw one another. In fact, some things are probably done that I hadn't even cast on before that time. Alas, looking in my knitting basket, I am pleased. Not everything is purple or one of it's various shades. I'm becoming more diverse in the types of fiber I create with. I'm still not opposed to a nicely dyed acrylic. I know I might even be deck out as a less than hardcore knitter because of it, but let's just be honest. If one is knitting for a child; one does not want to drive the child's parents batty with a hand wash only garment. And some acrylics are just SO soft. While I prefer Dolce Merino in most any knitting dilemma, I'm not above tossing some skeins of I Love This Yarn or Vanna's Choice into the cart at Hobby Lobby. (Loops and Threads if I'm at Michaels) Garments made from these yarns will be around after the apocalypse. And they might even survive being worn by my son for awhile.
This hat is not mentioned in this post, but I love it.

My son. My beautiful, amazing, inspiring, and wonderful son. He's going through a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles phase so I've been going through a lot of green and a little less orange, purple, red and blue. (Only need those colors for stripes.) First he wanted Leonardo. I knit him a green hat with a blue stripe and then I cut circles out of a piece of white felt, cut them in half, and those were the eyes. Super cute. Daniel loved it. For a little while. Then he wanted Michelangelo. Okay, no problem. This is why I bought every color all at once so I wouldn't find myself at the mercy of a temper tantrum at 9pm when he decided he wanted Raphael. I knit a Michelangelo and he went back to wearing the Leonardo. So we gave our good friend Noah Michelangelo and he was very appreciative and excited about his new turtle hat. That same day, Noah's big sister Kylee spotted the City Tweed lace hat that I had just finished. The City Tweed came from and the color way was Emerald Isle. Super pretty. I had posted a picture of the ball on Facebook asking my friends what they thought the yarn wanted to be. I got a few good suggestions (a few that just made me roll my eyes. Underwear knit from a high quality wool like City Tweed? Obviously you are not one of us.) In the end, I decided to make the pattern that came with the kit. I purchased the Luxe kit from knitpicks over a year ago. It also came with Capra, Andean Treasure, and Aloft. I had knit the cowl right away (and gave it to someone but I can't remember who) and still had the Andean Treasure and City Tweed. The hat got all goofed up. The lace border was fine. In fact I was in love with it. Then the body of the hat got offset somehow and ended up being more spiral-y than it was supposed to and after checking with other knitters on, I saw that I was not the only one who had made this error. In spite of it, the hat ended up being gorgeous. I intended to give it to my yoga sister Michelle, but Kylee picked it up and the way her eyes lit up when she put it on and looked in the mirror....I couldn't stop myself. I let Kylee have it and promptly purchased two balls of Dolce Merino to knit a replacement for Michelle. Sending two kids off after a sleepover with warm heads and happy hearts is one of the hidden joys of being a knitter. I regularly am asked to knit specific things for people, and I'm always happy to do that. I have to admit though, when an unexpected treasure that at first I was unhappy with because of a mistake (and only I knew it was a mistake) finds it's way into the hands of someone who isn't expecting to take a hand knit away after time with you, it really makes me happy. I've made Kylee a hat each year since I met her and the other thing that brings a smile to my face is seeing her hats become worn and tattered, yet she won't give them up. I think it's very possible that the love I mentally put into each stitch of whatever I knit can really be felt by those who wear these things. And what good is knitting if it's not shared. If I kept everything I knit, you would see my house on the evening news, busting at the seems and my clogs sticking out like the wicked witch's feet after the house fell on her, only instead of a house, it would be a pile of yarn.

And probably yoga magazines.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Sincere Apologies...

To anyone who has come face to face with the pre-menstrual monster that I turn in to around the 20th of every month: I am sorry. I could make a list of people included in this list, but if you have ended a conversation with me lately that left you thinking, "Who the hell was that?" then you know you are owed an apology.

I'll start with my husband. My poor, poor husband.

It has been so cold the last few days. I was sick on Monday. Sick enough to take the day off. That never happens. Mom took Julie and Daniel so I could rest, and I laid in bed pretty much all day long watching reruns on Hulu of The Surreal Life and then I had to watch every episode of Strange Love. Flavor Flav is not the kind of man I would normally raise an eyebrow of interest at, but there's something endearing about him. I can't put my finger on it...though maybe it's the clock. Anyways, the first problem we encountered was on Monday evening. I wanted to make myself a grill like Flavor Flav's, and we did not have tinfoil. DH would not go to the store to purchase tinfoil for my little arts and crafts project, so that was hissy fit number one. This refusal to go out into the subzero temperatures so his wife could make a goofy grill out of tinfoil translated into him not loving me or caring about my happiness and entertainment.

Then last night, we took a family trip to the library. As usual, I wandered right over to the section with the knitting books, and was happy to find the book that the guild donated to the library on the shelf. I decided to check it out and on the way home, I noticed that without being told what it was, I knew the brand and colorway of the yarn on the cover. I excitedly told my DH this news and he looked at me as if to say, "Yeah. And?" Then I asked if he wanted me to tell him. He said no. Then he even said he didn't really care.

<Tires squealing>

Back the SUV up. Doesn't care? Really. Were those the necessarry words to use? Why not just save himself the inevitable argument and say, "Sure, honey. What kind of yarn is that?" No. He said he didn't care. THEN he compared knitting, something I am extremely passionate about, to his job with broom handles. Knitting. My happy place. My passion. And drilling broom handles. Something he complains about and finds quite boring. How do the two compare? I crossed my arms and slumped down in my seat and became set on not speaking to him for the rest of the ride home. I looked out the window and sighed loudly a few times just to make sure that he knew I was not feeling his remark in a good place. It kind of made my inner evil stir a little bit. I took the gloves off and unleashed some hurtful words of my own. I told him that his soul is full of ice and his heart is black. I told him that it is hurtful that he has no interest in something that makes me so happy. And that he would compare it to something that he pretty much hates was like a double punch to the face. I've been hurt in the past. So he won't look at the crap I pull out of my pores with my Biore strip...I can sort of understand that. He won't smell my armpits to help me determine if I smell. I can even get that a little bit. But to call my passion uninteresting to him? That is just crossing so many lines.

But by the end of this week my hormones will have stabalized and I probably won't care.