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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 skin...so 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.