Be The Change

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It feels good to eat real food again. After surviving on flavor-ice pops, tea and bullion for the past three days, it was nice to put some real substance in my body. Being sick is no fun and I was very thankful to have a collection of lovely souls who carted my kids around and kept checking in on me; bringing me subsistence when I needed it. Thankful for my kids who (minus one incident) were top-notch caretakers, making me tea/honey/elderberry concoctions, waking on their own various times through the night just to come in and say “mommy, you ok?” (because they knew I wasn’t really sleeping either), and for being mature enough to realize that i was also missing out on the Celtic Festival yesterday. It is rewarding to see my young boys showing compassion on their own, knowing that they really are paying attention to things I try to teach them.
As I am always one to find the positive in any situation, all of the above mentioned things are obviously things that I have been grateful for over the past few days.  I’ve been through much worse, and many others are currently going through worse. I will continue to keep my optimistic perspective in life.  Happily, I will.  But there are also some things that eat at me. Since most people have the attention span of a flea I’m sure some will choose to ignore it and not read, but if anything I say causes one person to think for a moment it’s worth my time.  Negativity is such a prevalent disease in society these days yet no one seems to be treating it as such. It’s probably more contagious than what I’ve been harboring over the past few days, yet people continue to spread it without so much as a thought about how they are affecting their atmosphere and the surroundings of anyone in its path.
There are many stories in the news that are shared over and over and over again, by different people, with different perspectives. Presidential candidates are taking up a good amount of my facebook feed these days. Most of whom aren’t even worth a fraction of the social airtime they get, nor the time I have to waste hitting “hide” when I get tired of seeing the same demeaning story again, and again.  Move on down your feed and it’s another meme or another article that sometimes the person sharing hasn’t even read (yes this happens).  Most of what I see these days is hateful, shaming and demeaning.  It saddens me that even people who I love and respect and call my friends are quick to share these things. Blasting judgment at anyone who receives public assistance without first understanding their situation and why they are receiving it.  Or calling out anyone who is pro-choice without understanding what “pro-choice” means to them.  Berating anyone who is anti-guns because “it’s my right!” And of course bashing the transgendered without having one tiny iota of a clue how they might feel inside. It’s obvious that no one cares what anyone else is feeling inside.  Instead of asking questions when we disagree or misunderstand, such as “What brought you to hold that opinion? Where did you get the information that makes you continue to believe/trust/hold this opinion? What happened in your life to bring you to this place? What makes you feel this way? How can we come to understand each other” We instead choose to scream at everyone “You’re a fucking idiot because you don’t believe what I believe.” It’s not Democrats or Republicans, it’s not Christians, it’s not LGBT, it’s EVERYONE.  We fear what we don’t understand and none of us are really TRYING to understand.  We just want to hold onto what we have been taught and make sure to tell everyone why they should agree with us.  (disclaimer: I have been that person, and am far from perfect, but I try hard not to be that arrogant asshole. I remain passionate about my beliefs, but I am always willing to engage in dialogue.)
For instance, I am not living in a country where my only option to provide safety for my family is to take my chances with the sea and the compassion of those on the other side (if i reach the other side). Ive spent the past few days trying to think of the best way to help these people. I can donate money, time, etc., but i can not teach empathy which is what the world truly needs more of to make a difference. I may have been in pretty serious pain these past few days but it doesn’t compare to anything they are going through. Nor does it compare to how my heart breaks at all the horrible things that many people are sharing and posting so often on immigration and every topic under the sun.  Instead of creating dialogue you just scream at each other under the passive/agressive memes. That is no way to create understanding and respect.  Especially since we’re all really a bunch of hypocrites. Really, we are. You hate illegal immigrants but I bet you still eat apples. You’re pro life? How many kids are you signing up to mentor or foster? I was having a conversation with my children last evening about the situation with the Syrian refugees.  The question popped into my head when I was referencing the belief that a lot of people hold that we as a country (the good USA) can not possibly take everyone in. We “don’t have room to save everyone”.  How can anyone say that when there are so many people living in houses with bedrooms they don’t even use? There are so many houses sitting empty for whatever reason.  Houses are falling down. People own two, three, four houses.  Single, childless couples live in million dollar homes with rooms larger than my entire house that are used solely for entertaining others, but we “don’t have the room”? When did material and status become more important than human beings? My own 11 year old young child wonders at the same time how many of these families we can fit into our own, small home (in addition to all the animals that need saved too. We would have quite a sanctuary here if he were in charge. And I pray every day that he never loses this caring nature, because he is exactly what the world needs more of).
I spent a good part of my life being proud of a smart-ass sense of humor, my cynicism, quick to throw out the most sarcastic, offensive remark I could think of. But I have evolved in many ways and the empath in me can’t stomach the lack of compassion and blatant “telling it like it is” attitude. It’s your perspective, your opinion, your viewpoint, not the end all way of believing.  Even the things I believe I may end up changing my opinion on some day because something may change my mind about it.  One example? I used to be for the death penalty.  Who ever would have thought that having a family member murdered would cause me to be against it. Talk to me about it though, and I will explain it to you in whatever detail you want. Life has a funny way of being and is always testing us and providing us with the chance to learn, and to teach.
Need a challenge? Start to look deeply at your actions and reactions in each moment. Instead of reacting, put yourself in the other persons soul for a moment….yes, their soul, not their shoes. Shoes can be taken off, but once you’ve stepped in someones soul there is an understanding that never really leaves. Energy is absorbed.  What kind of energy do you want others to absorb from you? If you find yourself quick to judge, ask yourself, “how would I feel if it were me? How would I want people to treat me?” Or better yet, just think to yourself “how can I be of assistance.”
Yes, how can I be of assistance?
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One hundred words of now

Borrowing this idea from the lovely Susannah Conway

gratitude. frustration. clarity. breath. nostalgia. opportunity. motivation. salad. overcast. solidarity. tarot. focus. moments. release. acceptance. hopeful. knowing. H2O. decades. time. PTSD. generations. writing. pouring. soul. awakening. encouragement. journey. adjustments. ocean air. deep breaths. centeredness. awareness. warm tea. sweet honey. cocoon. fluidity. order. impermanence. attachments. soul contracts. digging. being. creating. showing. trust. presence. broken printer. lucid dreaming. letting go. wool socks. solar power. intuition. burning sage. abandoned trains. redundancy. record players. vintage heirlooms. balcony doors. abundance. manifestation. roots. fresh cut grass. campfires. possibility. music. growth. banjos. plethora. shedding. hoops. peppers. commitment. empath. oceans. porch. doves. perspective. planning. youth. wisdom. birthdays. adolescence. grace. nature.  make that 80some words. inconsistency.

My phone is not an appendage and I want to crush all the technology

I have been heavy with thought of how many times my phone is in my hands during the course of my waking hours.  While I am present in many ways in my life, I know there is always room for more.  And I would venture that the amount of time I’m “passing” by scrolling down through a newsfeed on “insert site here” would be quite scary if I actually tracked it.  And there are a lot of things that I’m finding bothersome about social media and its presence these days.

All over facebook you’ll find article after article telling us how we can be better people, how we can do more, how we can become “perfect”.  “Six ways to have your best life”, or “Ten ways to stop stressing”.  “Five ways to Live your dream life”. Blah blah blah. There are two things that create happiness.  Perspective and Intention.  It’s all how you see things, and what you do with what you see.

So, before I digress any further from my whole point (because, as a Libra, I am wordy and I can digress better than anyone, and I could totally prove that by putting the two paragraphs back in that I edited out above this one…oh, look, I totally digressed from my digressing! bam, take that, squirrel!).  Where was I?  Oh, yes, facebook and all the other social media that I truly believe have their positive ways of connecting us, but just as many, if not more ways of disconnecting us.  And I’m challenging myself.  I’m not putting any timeframes or restrictions.  It’s not a challenge to stay off facebook for 30 days, or to only check once a day.  I’m challenging myself to be more aware of my media consumption in all of its forms.  Facebook, texting, emailing, etc. It’s all consumption, and just like physical things, we can overconsume media too. And the only reason I don’t include television in there is because I’ve already conquered that one.  We are very conscious in what we watch as we don’t have a television and only watch dvd’s on the laptop or the occasional netflix. Take that cable company!

Every two or three weeks, one of my best friends and I spend usually over two hours on the phone.  Not texting, not chatting, but verbally talking to each other with our voices.  The entire time I was growing up, my mother and my grandmother had a weekly hour long call with my aunt who lives out of state.  My mother continues that today.  On the phone, talking to each other.  I know so many people who would have no idea how to fill those moments of awkward silence.  What do you do when the silence comes?  I guess because facebook didn’t exist back in the day (and it still doesnt’ to many people) there are plenty of things to talk about because people didn’t know what everyone was doing every minute of every day.  But here’s the thing, why should silence be awkward? Why are we so fucking afraid of talking to each other?  But we’re all apparently okay talking AT each other.  Oh, facebook, you fathom me so.

When was the last time you physically wrote someone a letter?  Do you even know most of your friends addresses? I have had a few friends over the years that have gone out of state and became my pen pals.  I still have every one of those letters.  Even handwritten letters show emotion and sounds that texting and email doesn’t.   I am starting to really dislike texting as a form of communication for anything other than “do you need anything? i’m on my way. what time are you leaving?”.  So much is lost in those little bubbles.  So much miscommunication, so much lack of emotion, understanding, expression. Even those ridiculous emoticons don’t do near the job of portraying laughter as a good verbal guffaw.  I’ve had way too many conversations over text that should have been initiated in person and I wonder how those same conversations would have gone 15 years ago without this technology.

Do you ever just stop and visit people? Like unplanned visits? I remember running around with my grandmother, doing grocery shopping or any errands, and she would say “oh I have to stop and visit so and so”, and we would.

I guess I’m just feeling a little underwhelmed with the media these days. It’s pretty nice out today, and my wisteria needs pruning.  And there’s not an app for that, thankfully.

29 Days Until Spring!

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I can see the light at the end of this cold, frigid tunnel.

This morning, as I bundled up to take the dog out, my thoughts went to how nice it will be to not have to throw on a coat, hat, scarf, boots, gloves, etc. just to walk outside for her to do her business.  As I filled the tea kettle with water, I thought how nice it will be not to have to let the water in my kitchen sink drip so that the pipes don’t freeze, to not worry about the laundry room freezing and not being able to do laundry. How nice to wake up to the sun shining in through my windows knowing that it’s just as warm outside as it is under the blankets.
There are many things I’m looking forward to NOT doing, but even more that the warm weather will bring.

Crocus Blooming off my front porch
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Trees blossoming
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Fresh flowers adorning my kitchen window
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Gardening with the generations on the homestead
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A visit to GA with this beautiful lady
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Toes in the sweet, soft Ocracoke sand
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Many, many hikes
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Sunsets on Silver Lake Harbor, Ocracoke
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The neighbors sheep grazing
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Hours of floating on the creek
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Ferry rides
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Drive ins!
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Flip flops!
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Outside play
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This definitely helped, and hopefully it will brighten your day if you are also dealing with freezing temperatures.  While I don’t like to wish time away, I do hope that the warm weather makes its way here soon!

Patience in the Process – A Journey in Knitting, and Socks

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My knitting journey began roughly three years ago and enlisted the help of a few friends.  Two of them gifted me, for Christmas, pretty much everything I would need to begin.  And through their help, and a little bit of you-tubing, I ended up completing my first project.  A scarf.  I was a huge fan of the larger needles at that time as I felt it was easier to see the stitches and could easily work each row without making mistakes.  I spent about a year making scarves; experimenting with various types of yarn and eventually smaller needles as I became more confident in my knit/purl abilities, discovering which ones felt most comfortable and which I preferred to work with over others.  To this day I admit I’m a total yarn snob and will always choose a good natural, wool yarn over any of the cheaper man-made materials.

After that first year I was ready for a change and with the help of my dear and talented friend Amber, I moved on to circular needles, kitting the first of what would be a year full of hats.  I became a bit obsessed with circular knitting and each hat seemed to bind off quicker than the last.  I mostly stuck with the easy to follow beanie patterns and spent many cold, winter evenings planted on my couch, mindlessly stitching hat after hat as I watched a ridiculous amount of shows on Netflix.  Circular knitting and hats in general were so easy, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment as my craft continued well past beginner level.  It was quite rewarding, especially considering how intimidated I had initially been to work with circulars.

Eventually I felt the need, again, for a challenge.  I grew tired of hats and picked up set of double-pointed needles to produce my first pair of fingerless gloves.  Double-pointed knitting required a little more attention but with an easy pattern I could still continue knitting without having to follow the pattern too closely.  Does anyone see a pattern yet? (yes, pun totally intended). I clearly realized that I avoided the more challenging projects.  I wanted to do actual gloves.  The kind with the fingers.  Or even those that are fingerless but have the mitten part that cover your fingers when it’s really cold.  Those would have been perfect for photography sessions in the middle of January.  And I wanted to do socks, and sweaters. But as usual, I stuck with easy.  I continued to kick out a couple more hats and then would take a break for the summer and work on other warm weather endeavors.

When it got cool again, I decided to try a cowl.  Looking back, it may have been a different project than I had done, but cowls seem to be easier than hats, and even scarves.  Unless it’s a lace pattern or any other intricate stitching, it’s a total mindless event.  You knit and purl, over and over, row after row, until it’s time to bind off, and then you’re done.  You can do it while talking on the phone, you can do it while waiting your turn at the dentists office, or in your car while waiting for a friend for a lunch date.  Just like a hat or a scarf, you can take them anywhere and you can stop in the middle of a row and pretty much know where you will start when you pick it back up.  After a couple cowls it became even more clear how much I was avoiding any project that required any kind of serious time or attention commitment from me.

So, fast forward to last week.  I found myself without a project at Craft Night.  I looked through some magazines, inspired by a few options, but still unable to commit.  I felt myself continuing to look for something new, different, but still easy.  The same dear friend I mentioned earlier said “I think you’re ready for socks! I have the perfect pattern!”  The hesitation swelled.  I wanted to just grab a skein of my favorite Manos del Uruguay and throw out another easy cowl.  But I knew the reason I was having such a hard time finding a project to start was due to boredom.  I NEEDED the challenge.  So as she handed me the pattern and said, again, “you are totally ready for socks”, I grabbed some sock yarn and began.

In the short week that I have been working on the first sock, I’ve learned some valuable lessons.  I’ve looked back at my knitting journey and can see what it has given me thus far.  It’s therapeutic.  With easy patterns, the repetitive stitching, watching the progress, seeing the end result, it’s all very soothing and healing.  Being able to work with my hands and create something beautiful that people appreciate and wear and love is absolutely fulfilling.  I’ve really come to love the “Makers Life” that I’ve been living.  And it’s especially rewarding when my own children want to join in and can crank their own projects out.  Even moreso because they are boys and have no hesitation about what society seems to condition as a girls-only craft.

But the socks, they are teaching me so much more.  It’s a challenge and a process. The patterns require focus, especially when you get to the heel.  Using double pointed needles requires a little more coordination and therefore more patience.  When I got past the initial ribbing at the top of the sock, I felt myself ready to plow through the next six or so inches to the heel.  But I couldn’t.  It isn’t like circular needles where you just keep going and going, even if you are knitting in the round.  You have to be patient.  You have to watch as you go to ensure your stitches aren’t too loose between needles.  You have to pay attention.

As I finished the tube part and came to the heel, a part of me wanted to wait until I could visit Amber to get me started on that part, so that I would have help and wouldn’t have to screw up and go back and fix something.  But I wanted to do it, and I wanted to do it myself.  So I took a deep breath, read through the next steps a couple times and began.  I’ve now made it past the heel to shaping the gusset.  And while I discovered that I dropped a stitch a few rows back, I still am pretty damn proud of myself for accomplishing this on my own.  The stitch can easily be picked up and I have pushed through the fear of not only patterns, but of committing.

Life is all about the process.  And for me, knitting has never been about the finished hat, the dozens of scarves on the shelf or the cowls crowding my etsy shop.  It’s about the process of doing, of seeing and of becoming.  It’s what you learn about yourself in each of those new stitches.  It’s those epiphanies and metaphors that pop out in each new row.  I’ve gained wisdom in this first little sock, and am looking more forward to what I learn in the next one than I am in actually wearing them.

Out with the old

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Once again, another year has flown by.  It seems like just a moment ago I was watching 2013 walk out the door as I very happily slammed it shut and bolted the lock behind it.  Although it was no where near as dark and grief-stricken as 2009 had been, 2013 ended with the bang of a screen door in a tornado.  Thus causing 2014 to begin with a retreat to the internal depths of my soul.  But what a journey of discovery it has been.

At the end of each year, I take time to reflect, to look back on what has presented itself to me over the previous twelve months.  Examining my reactions to each situation, how I felt at the onset and how things ended up after it had run its course, and where I found myself at the end of it all.  I will never cease to be surprised at how much growth continues to happen in my soul and how differently I feel in myself compared to how my previous self looks from this new perspective.  There are many things about me that never change, but each year I feel like I find more beautiful pieces of my soul in the debris that the ebb and flow of each tide leaves behind.  It’s all about perspective, and we always have the ability to have a positive perspective.

For a moment, I thought 2014 was going to go out with another torrential downpour, but instead it is going out with the quiet, calm and surprisingly sweet sounds of an open field after a rainstorm.  As many are looking forward to making resolutions to *find* themselves, I am relieved to say that I have, indeed, found myself.  There are, of course, still discoveries to be made and plans to hatch and paths to forge, but I will be doing it all from a place of faith, trust, and certainty in myself.  I am armed with grace and instead of bulldozing over the thorns that may overgrow my path at times, I also have the awareness that careful pruning requires.

Tonight, I will be setting my intentions for the coming year and letting go of that which no longer serves.  My children and I will have ourselves a ceremony, and in the morning we will awaken in time to welcome the sunrise on a fresh, new year.  Perhaps you will do the same.

Namaste.

Continuing Journey

This time of year is sometimes difficult for me. I miss the huge family gatherings and meals and the presence of those who were the core of these celebrating times for the majority of my years on this earth. I miss the smell of my grandmothers cooking that would engulf me upon entering the kitchen and permeate throughout the entire house. I miss the traditional Christmas Eve exchange where my cousin and I would make fun of my mother who took such care to conserve as much wrapping paper as possible for re-use year after year. (As eco-conscious as I am now, I cringe at my younger self for all the waste I created poking fun at her frugality.) I miss the intense card games between my aunts and uncles at my dads side of the familys Christmas get togethers. I miss many things. But I also find solace in all those memories, and continued awareness in how lucky I am to have had those experiences. And most importantly I am increasingly thankful for what continues to provide grace to my soul. For what is gone something new comes to take its place and I am abundantly blessed more each day. I have beautiful, healthy, caring, amazingly wise children who bring so much joy to my heart. I have many beautiful, sweet, inspiring friends. I have the pleasure of sharing time, space, experiences, dinners and conversations, with them. Friends whose energy touches my soul in such positive ways. I have wonderful family members who I am lucky to not only spend time with frequently but to watch our children grow their own bonds just as we did as children. I have a home that has deep roots spanning centuries and countless generations. I have gifts of abundant creativity. I have a deep love and appreciation for myself and an awareness in that self that grows more each day. And though the presence of some may be missing, I continue to receive gifts from those losses.

Where my grandparents are all gone now, I have wisdom learned from decades of time spent with them that I continue to pass down to my children. I have the traditions we keep carrying on. I have my grandmothers sand tart recipe and the experience of spending a day this week with my mother in the same kitchen, using the same rolling pin her hands put their energies on through her lifetime. I have reconnected with a few old friends and have been thoroughly enjoying reminiscing about our younger years, waxing philosophical about many facets of life, and sharing continued email conversations with one that feels much like the handwritten letters shared many moons ago. I have memories of connections that still continue to take up residence in my heart and hope that gentleness, kindness, forgiveness and release will continue to overcome resentment and bring peace to where it has long needed to come. It’s presence, time and connection that matters. It is having patience with ourselves and our loved ones in all aspects of our journeys. It is the ever-growing grace that grows larger each day.

I am thankful for those that I have in my life and for those whose presence is missing from my life in one way or another. I am thankful for the lessons that come to me in each situation I am faced with.