Quieter

20170211_114104A little knitting.

20170313_091547Knitting littles.

Signs of Spring.

Things have been remarkably quiet here on This Side. The days keep flowing into one another and here we are again in the Spring roller coaster. 80 degrees one day, sleet the next. A couple nights ago we were under a tornado watch. It’s only March, so this will happen a few more times before summer settles in. Interestingly, while a good part of the country has been buried in snow this year, the other night I saw on the weather that we have had a record mild winter in regard to snowfall and cold. I think I’ve only worn a coat once. The rest of the time I’ve gotten by with just a sweater.

After what feels like a deep hibernation the last couple of months I was suddenly brought back to life when the Oldest Child landed in the hospital for another 12 days with a flareup of crohn’s. This time we saw a perforation in her colon and spent a nail-biting 4 days determining whether she would have surgery and how much, if not all, of her colon she could lose. This time she got off easily by waiting and in the end it healed itself. Massive antibiotics and pain meds –  but a miss is as good as a mile, right? What a terrible disease this is!

Yesterday was the Second Sunday in Lent, if you follow these things. It’s been years since I followed the practice of “giving something up” for Lent – but each year I DO try to focus on something that might better myself or those around me. This year I’ve been thinking a lot about how much time I spend in front of electronics: TV, cell phone, computer. I’ve been trying for a while to cut back, and what better time than now?  Now, when so many of my friends and family seem to be in need of special thoughts and prayers, how can I justify hours spend watching frivolous TV shows and playing games on a computer. I spend all of my working day in front of a computer screen. There are certainly better uses for the rest of my time. For Lent I’m determined to restrict my viewing time to the 8 hours a day at work – provided we are not threatened with tornados in the neighborhood when turning on the weather channel might be prudent.

The truth is, being a hard-core introvert, I thrive on quiet. A part of me wants to be outgoing and sparkling but if I’m to be true to myself I have to accept the fact that I’m just NOT.  You know what? That’s OK. Being an introvert in an extrovert world means I have to deflect a lot of well-intentioned entreaties from family and friends to “get involved” with things, and believe me, I’ve tried. I’m realizing though, how much more alive I actually feel when I’m living my own way with my involvement coming in through the back door. While I have great admiration for the energy of younger women these days, I’ve decided I’m just as energetic – but in a quieter way.

Maybe, in the end, the bravery I admire in young women today doesn’t have so much to do with WHAT they are doing in terms of travel and adventure, but more with the idea that they are finding their own unique rhythms. That said – anytime we can find our own niche’ and know where we belong is a moment to celebrate. Don’t you think?

 

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No Pressure

20161128_201112Thanksgiving came and went quietly……….. quietly. It drifted in with a thick damp fog and passed with the same stillness. I spent a contented few days at home curled in the warmth of blankets and hot drinks and woolly projects and seasonal movies. I felt very still myself and for that I was thankful.

The past few Thanksgivings have seen the Oldest Child make the trek down from points north. We would fill the days with traditional dinner and movies or football, and the weekend with fun events.  This year, however, she is in a new home and spent a happy weekend with friends and busyness and running here and there, and I was happy for her to be able to do the things she wanted to do.

Long ago I went through a time when obligations took over the holidays. There could never be any variations in the plans, and no matter what may have been going on elsewhere, I was not allowed. There was only one place where I spent holidays. Looking back, I’m glad to have been where I needed to be, but now, with my grown children, I want them to know that they ARE allowed.  They are allowed to make the best holiday plans that they can. If travel comes up – I want them to go. If a binge of parties are offered, I want them to accept.

I’m lucky, because I know I am invited.  I know there is always a place for me if I want to jump in, and for that too I am thankful. I also know that if a time comes that I want to travel, or take advantage of invitations, or, as was the case this year, stay quietly at home and catch up on some much needed rest, that I am allowed.

20161128_200813I love my girls; I love spending time with them and I love spending Holidays with them, but we all live busy lives and the one thing I don’t want is for our special days to be clouded by a cloak of obligation that could easily morph into a burden.  How Blessed are the times we spend together because we truly want to be with one another! How fortunate that as my adult children gain in years and experience that we also grow in friendship!

Living from the heart – living from a place of love is really what I wish for all of us this Holiday Season.  I hope your days were joyful and blessed. I hope that the places you went or the people you were with were met heart to heart. I hope the days to come will be magical.

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Opening the Door Just a Little

20160410_080418I was talking to a friend recently about the difficulty of a very private person posting on public media. Well – not exactly that, but that was the point.  I was saying that one of the things I love best about blogs is feeling like I’m learning to know someone when they are brave enough to let the public a few steps into their private lives. Not in a creepy way, but in a sharing way. I admire the people who can post about their family and both the good and the messy parts figuratively and literally. I like being able to keep up with old friends and some distant family because they share pieces of their day-to-day life on Facebook. Twitter is always up for opinions and the various photography sites are amazing as both art and visual journaling.  Kudos and appreciation to all who manage to do it so well.

On the other hand, the question is how to keep up when this kind of intimacy is taking steps far outside all comfort zones.  Is it brave? Is it needy? Is it giving in to all kinds of narcissism?  Or is it, as I hope, simply a means of reaching out and sharing parts of ourselves and our ideas that might ring true to someone?

I’ve been reading a lot of bloggers lately who seem to think blogging has seen it’s day and is on the way out – being overtaken by Instagram or the quicker and easier Twitter and Facebook.  Maybe. Maybe not. I still seem to be able to find blogs on just about any subject I’m interested in.  I happen to radiate towards the subjects of knitting, writing and life journeys. Maybe because I’m not very good at it, I like to read about people who grab the bull by the horns and get on with things.  I like to see photos of homes and gardens and read about decorating or remodeling adventures. Mostly, I like to feel that someone is being open and honest and willing to take a chance on knowing new people.

I’m not very good at that either.

When I started this blog, my first thought was “Who cares what you think?”  My second thought was “Don’t whine!”  Third only to those was the idea that I’ve actually done some interesting things in my life and maybe that would resonate with someone – but not if I don’t open up and share a little bit more. Right?  For instance, did you know I have three grown daughters? Did you know that I’ve driven cross country several times by myself? Did you know that one of my favorite wishes for most of my life has been to do a driving tour of England, Scotland and Wales?   No. Of course not. I never told you that.  But NOW you do and maybe it’s a start.

I would love to continue the conversation. What do you think?

To Lean On

In the mountains we called it the “shoulder season” – like shoulder of the road. It referred to  the in-between times when tourists were few and activity slowed for a while. Before the summer rush. Before the winter skiing. For some it meant the time of unemployment – laid-off while motels and resorts were cleaned and prepped for the season to come. For some it meant a welcomed break after a rushed and busy time. Shoulder season.

When I think of shoulders, I don’t think of roadways. I don’t immediately think of the edge of things. I think a shoulder to cry on. A shoulder to carry the weight. Shoulders to hold up – hold back – lean on – lean into. Hard work. Strength. Pride. Put your shoulders back and carry on.thCAVVSXAN

I wonder if this spring that we are in – this shoulder season – can be all of those things. Spring is so many things in the Midwest. Soft gentle beauty of blooming things, returning songbirds, longer days.  Furious, screaming winds and storms filled with roaring skies.  This season doesn’t feel like the edge of anything. It feels like the deep, sunk-in middle where anything can happen as everything swirls round and round like Dorthys tornado – a season that requires strength. A season that needs strong and broad shoulders to push through to the relative quiet of summer.

Within the boundaries of my small world this spring I’ve witnessed loss – lost job, lost love, lost life. I’ve also seen joy in renewed energy, awakenings and revelations, a new life. It’s been a time for strong shoulders and brave spirits. It’s been a time to build on and grow from.  I wait and watch and try to bring kindness and help to the people I love. I marvel at the people I know who are growing and blooming in their souls like the trees and plants, bringing forth new life and growth.  My own spirit rolls and pushes, looking for space and stretching toward . . . . what?  Something.  Maybe just stretching.

Shoulder season – whether it be the edge of summer, or the middle of a storm,  I hope there is a strong shoulder nearby. Maybe your own. Maybe another.

Traveling Companions

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When I turned down the street towards home a robin started up from the lawn of one of the houses I pass in my neighborhood. He flew directly in front of my car like a warm summer hood ornament.  Instead of veering off, he stayed there and flew with me for two blocks then turned with my car down my street before drifting away into the afternoon.

Was he going that direction anyway and just thought to travel long with me for a few wing beats?  Did he think I was lost and politely showed me the way home?  We didn’t have time to chat, but I like to think it was kindly meant.

 

A Few of My Friends

I grew up surrounded by books. Hundreds of them. Literally.   I was blessed with parents who were readers and because of that, I’ve always had a great respect for the written word. I don’t have a favorite genre though of course there are certain books I am drawn to more than others. Today, though, is about beginnings. I’ve spoken before about books that have been sold or given away, but let me show you some of the books that have stayed with me, both physically and emotionally.

 

This book shelf,  part of an antique secretary, is the guardian of treasures.  You may be able to see on the shelves the old volumes that have come to me from my parents and from gifts and purchases. I love antique books – partly for their age and patina, but mostly because I love the idea of reading a book that has been read and loved before. These shelves house, among others, the books that fed my childhood. Well written, beautifully illustrated, these and many others gave me such a lovely introduction to true literature.

 

My earliest memory is this book of fairy stories by Clara Ingram Judson.  These stories sent me into the woods in search of the tiny folk who painted the flowers in the Spring and who could tidy up their dirty gowns by simply whispering, “Muscus Cleanus.” I wanted to play with them and indeed I did, in my imagination.

My Raggedy Ann doll came to live with me on my fifth birthday.  My family was on our way to a favorite camping place and we had a regular roadside picnic, complete with cake and candles. Raggedy was a treasure because she was already a dear friend. This book was already showing wear, but I never knew until that birthday, that Miss Raggedy was real.

Winnie the Pooh came later. I was in school (kindergarden? 1st grade?)  when I first heard the Pooh stories read to a class of eager children. Piglett was my favorite. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I was able to purchase this used library copy.  I loved the “decorations” by E.H. Shepard.  I never could fall in love with the Disney versions, though they  are cute and my oldest daughter received her very own Eor on her 2nd birthday.

These three were also favorites. I remember sitting with my mother or father and even once or twice my grandfather, while they read these lovely stories over and over again.

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This book came later from my Father.  If you ever come across it, snatch it up and keep it forever. It’s funny and clever and I’ve only come across one or two people who have ever heard of it. Not exactly a child’s book, but by my mid-teens, I could fully appreciate the humor of it.

My earliest childhood days were so very idyllic.  Middle America, just after the war years. (Yup. I’m a boomer!)  A neighborhood with other children who all played together and had to come in when the street lights came on. Changes came soon enough, but the beginning laid a foundation  for the rest of my life, and the friends in these books have never left me.

Books are most certainly our friends. Who are some of yours?

 

It’s Never Too Late

I love blogs. I love the connection that it gives us with people of like-mind. I love that we don’t have to feel isolated because people with similar interests and similar stories have agreed to share a little bit of themselves. I love that we can become friends – or at least “keyboard pals” and know that someone “gets” us.

I didn’t know about blogging for years until a friend at my favorite yarn shop told me about Ravelry, a website dedicated to yarn and yarnies. I happily joined in and through that site discovered knitting blogs. From there, it’s an old story – you click on one link that leads to another link and so on and so on. Then the movie “Julie and Julia” came out and I had one of those little Ah-Ha moments when the light bulb came on and it all made sense. What can I say? Sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake.

(Confession: Every single tape player that I owned, including the one in my car, had to break before I ever bought my first CD. See? Slow.)

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I write letters. I like communication that is up close and personal. But here I am, with a brand new baby-blog – sorting my way through the ins and outs, and hoping that before it’s over, conversations and sharing will begin.

Here’s the thing: My computer at home is probably 10 years old. (Windows 7, I think.) My browser won’t support the WordPress program because it is so old and tired. The only camera I have is on my phone. The computer I’m using now is at work and its browser is struggling to keep up. I’ve never been published and I’m not well known and I struggle with technology. So why start on this journey?

“It’s never to late to be what you might have been.”
– George Elliot

That’s why.

My life has been interesting. I’ve been a few places, done a few things, been through some bits and pieces of drama, and honestly, I hope in a small way, some of what I’ve learned could be helpful to someone along the way. Plus, it’s fun to share. I love books, and writing and art and all those right brain things. I’m also pretty organized and systematic, so there’s a little left-brain action firing away, too. Time to do some of those things I might have done.

What I know is that not giving up is a good thing. I know there really is a good balance between common sense and finding ways to follow your heart. I know sometimes we have to wait a little and have faith that if we are meant to do something, a way will present itself. I set up this blog on a Kindle. I played with it a little bit on my smart phone and I jump back and forth between those and my work computer at lunchtime. Why now? Why not wait till I could get a new computer?

Why not?

I know that on a scale of life dreams a blog isn’t exactly up there with being an astronaut or curing cancer, but, for me, it’s something that I’ve wanted to do. And you know what? I say even the baby steps count if they point towards what you enjoy.

Why did you start a blog? Where has it taken you?