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Knitting for the Soul

Monday, January 24, 2005

Counting My Blessings

I've been really depressed for the last week or so. Never mind that I've been diagnosed with "clinical depression" and never mind that I've stopped taking my anti-depressants for a number of reasons that aren't really important right now. What IS important is that I've realized a very important correlation: When I'm depressed, my thinking gets muddled and my view of the world and my place in it changes. My energy drains, my enthusiasm disappears, and my creativity and sense of Self lies dormant. At the same time all of my senses and sensibilities are shutting down, my prayer life suffers too. I'm too tired... Too tired to work, too tired to play, too tired to knit, too tired to pray. And once that vicious cycle starts, it's hard as hell to break it.

But that's exactly what I have to do. I have to remember that I've committed myself to a path of spiritual development and personal growth. I've openly expressed my desire for a more intimate relationship with Christ. I've made the decision to spend more time in prayer, meditation and devotion. But then reality bites, I get sidetracked by the drama du jour, and I fall off the wagon, flat on my butt. And it's hard getting up and starting again. It's so hard. But I have to do it anyway.

So today, I'm starting again. That's one of the great things about God's grace... knowing that He knows that I'm not perfect, that I could never be - no matter how hard I try, but He loves me anyway and accepts me as I am. Ironically, remembering that He loves and accepts me regardless inspires me to want to be better or at least to try a lot harder.

I started my day with the news of a 2-hour school delay due to icy road conditions. Part of me wanted to reset the alarm and crawl back under the covers. But thankfully, I chose to get up, dust off my stack of daily devotionals, and start reading and praying.

I always save my absolute favorite book, Simple Abundance, for last. Today's reading was titled "Blessing Our Circumstances". Sarah Ban Breathnach writes that "Blessing whatever vexes us is the spiritual surrender that can change even troublesome situations for the better. Blessing the circumstances in our lives also teaches us to trust... If you're sick and tired of learning life's lessons through pain and struggle, blessing your difficulties will show you there's a better way." She goes on to suggest that we start to count our blessings. Starting today. She challenged me to make a spiritual inventory of all of my blessings. Specifically to see if I can't get to 100.

So never being one to pass up a challenge, here goes...
  1. I'm a Christian.
  2. I know that when I die, Heaven will be my home.
  3. I'm remarkably healthy, despite of terrifying diagnoses of lupus over 10 years ago and 2 brushes with cancer since then that have turned out fine after 2 surgeries.
  4. I'm married to a generous, thoughtful and loving man.
  5. My daughter is in excellent physical health.
  6. We have a nice, comfortable home in a great neighborhood.
  7. I have a loving and supportive family.
  8. My parents are alive and healthy.
  9. I have a loving and supportive church family.
  10. I have wonderful friends who know me and love me anyway.
  11. I am able to work from home in my own business.
  12. My car is paid for and running well.
  13. I have health insurance.
  14. I have prepaid legal insurance and identity theft protection.
  15. I have found a passion for knitting that brings me great joy.
  16. I am acting on a long-time desire to write a book.
  17. I've loved and laughed more than I thought possible.
  18. I've traveled to many parts of this country and to a few other countries as well.
  19. I've had a high-powered corporate job that paid a lot of money, but realized it wasn't worth the mental price before it was too late.
  20. I'm a sexual assault survivor. I could have been killed, but I wasn't.
  21. I'm reaching out to others through 2 knitting ministries that I've been priviledged to be able to start.
  22. There's food on my table every day.
  23. We have heat and electricity.
  24. We're on an aggressive schedule to pay off our mortgage several years ahead of schedule.
  25. I see the opportunity to secure my family's financial security through my new business venture and I've set that plan in motion.
  26. I've done my best to improve another life and give something back by adopting my daughter.
  27. I'm comfortable with the way I look.
  28. I've survived bankruptcy and have a much healthier relationship with money as a result.
  29. I've survived the loss of a job, twice and have made the best of that situation.
  30. I've finally accepted that my diet does play a significant role in my health and I've found a dietary plan that works for me.
  31. I've had my heart broken more times than I'd care to admit, but it still works.
  32. I have a wonderful therapist who encourages me, supports me, and helps me in so many ways.
  33. I can keep in touch with old and new friends around the world via email.
  34. I'm close to the same weight that I was 20 years ago.
  35. I no longer worry about cervical cancer.
  36. Every day is a new opportunity to get it right.
  37. I can count on God's grace - even though I don't deserve it.
  38. I can make unlimited long distance calls on nights and weekends.
  39. I can find virtually anything I want on the internet.
  40. Being introduced to the concept of Simple Abundance and they ways it's changed my life.
  41. I have lived successfully without a credit card for nearly 4 years although I never thought I could.
  42. I realized that I needed to take my daughter out of public school before it was too late.
  43. I'm finding a way to pay for her private school tuition.
  44. I know from personal experience that every situation that doesn't kill me makes me stronger.
Okay... I've only come up with 44 so far, but this exercise has proven it's point. Regardless of how depressed I may feel, and even on the days when nothing seems to be going my way, I have so much to be thankful for.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Is Depression Contagious?

I think the blahs that have been winding their way through several knitting blogs lately have settled in at my house. For the past several days, I just haven't felt like doing much of anything. It's even a struggle to pick up my knitting, which is a sure sign that things are looking grim. Fortunately, we've had a bit of snow here. It doesn't take much to shut the entire metro area down, so I've been given the gift of another long weekend. Normally I'd use this time to get caught up on stuff around the house, but I just don't feel like doing anything.
Then, of course, I end up feeling worse for *wasting* time.

Perhaps this feeling is a signal that something's going on inside that needs my attention. Or maybe, I'm just long overdue for some downtime. Either way, I think I'm going to take advantage of the peace and quiet in the house today and curl up on the sofa and do NOTHING for a while!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Identity Theft is Real!

I've never done this before on this site, but sometimes something is so important that you have to share it... so here's my public service announcement for the day.

Those of you who do not live in the VA area may not have heard about what happened at George Mason University last week. More than 30,000 students and staff have potentially been victimized by a hacker who got into the university's computer systems and stole personal information which may have included Social Security numbers. Click here to read the article.

I've been watching those commercials about the guy-next-door going through his neighbors trash can to get personal information, but it's starting to hit a little too close to home for me. I decided I needed to do some research on what I could do to protect myself and my family. The timing was perfect (remember from previous posts that I don't believe in "coincidences") because a few days after that happened, one of my closest friends shared some information on a valuable resource that offers very affordable identity theft protection. I signed up for the identity theft and pre-paid legal service right away and am comforted by the peace of mind that my family now has.

There is also an awesome business opportunity that's available, so if you're in need of additional income, or are at least keeping your income options open, feel free to take a look. But regardless of whether you're interested in the business part of it, please please do yourself and your family a favor and take a look at the services this company has to offer. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day, you can protect your family from the fastest-growing crime in America. Click here for more info.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Loopy Scarf Pattern

Marcia asked about the pattern for my Loopy Scarf. I learned how to make it at my LYS, Lettuce Knit in Richmond, VA. However, I searched the net and found a very similar pattern at Joann.com in case anyone's interested.

The pattern that I'm using calls for about 150 yds, but it depends on the type of yarn. I'm using Medley by Berroco (Color 8924). I think I'm going to need 2-1/2 to 3 skeins (73 yds each). I've seen this done with plain worsted-weight yarn, "railroad ribbon", and several novelty yarns. Each one was beautiful, but look very different. Personally, I loved the colors and the thick-thin texture of Medley.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


I'm Loopy!!!

It's not the greatest image, but here's a picture of my Loopy Scarf. I'm about half way through. It took me a while to get the hang of the stitch, but now that I've got it I'm having a blast with it. It has a natural curl, so it ends up being sort of like a boa.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Back on track

It's been several days since I've knit or blogged. I've been going like gangbusters and I didn't even realize how much so until I crashed this afternoon. I just hit the virtual brick wall. I decided to crash on my sofa and watch General Hospital for an hour. (okay... a rare guilty pleasure). Although I had lots that I needed to do, for work and around the house, I figured out that what I really needed was a fix. So I pulled out my Lea sweater - yes, the remix after my off-gauge disaster from last week, and knit a few rows. I've got about 2 inches done and I'm on-gauge now. I continued knitting from the ball I already had wound. I haven't had the heart to frog the other back yet, but that's next.

I didn't knit for long, but it's amazing how healing that time was. After a few rows, I was able to go back into my office, send out monthly statements and collection letters, aka "Nasty-grams" (one of the things I hate most about being self-employed), made a few revisions to my website, and exceeded my weekly quota for addressing postcards for my new direct mail campaign! Now I'm off to fix dinner and start reorganizing my kitchen cabinets! Who needs drugs for a rush when they can knit!

Friday, January 07, 2005

I wish...

Today has not been a great day. Lots of challenges on the home front, and I discovered after I complete the entire back of my Cropped Lea sweater that although it started on gauge, it certainly didn't end up that way. I think it's too far off to block back to size. I think it would fit, but it would fit the way I'd like, so I'm going to be ripping this weekend and starting over. Anyway, I'd planned to work on my book tonight, but I can't in the mood I"m in, so I decided to do some blog surfing and I ended up at my favorite web blog, Prudent Purl. I'm always sure to find something fun and/or thought-provoking there. Tonight it was an "I Wish" list.

I think the idea behind this is that sometimes we get so caught up in our day-to-day dramas, that we forget to dream. Dreams are our roadmap to the future that our hearts desire, and without that map, how can we ever hope to reach our destination? So with my hearts desires in mind, here's my list of 25 wishes:

1. I wish I knew in my 20's and 30's what I know now and had saved myself a lot of heartache.
2. I wish I lived in Florida near the water.
3. I wish I had a bigger and more elegantly decorated home.
4. I wish I had more money and fewer bills.
5. I wish I had a baby grand piano and could play by ear.
6. I wish I could take a 2-week vacation to some wonderfully exotic place at least twice each year.
7. I wish I owned a yarn shop and that I could resist the temptation to knit up all the inventory.
8. I wish I could write a best-selling book.
9. I wish I was a better wife and mother.
10. I wish I could spend more time knitting.
11. I wish I felt closer to my family.
12. I wish my daughter who was born prematurely 22 years ago had lived.
13. I wish my husband and I had a more active social life.
14. I wish I hadn't married the wrong person (more than once).
15. I wish I was more healty and fit.
16. I wish I slept better at night.
17. I wish I could eat out in nice restaurants almost every night.
18. I wish I had a giant walk-in closet filled with simple, but elegant clothes, shoes and accessories.
19. I wish I went somewhere to wear those clothes.
20. I wish I could tithe more faithfully.
21. I wish I could start and fund a charitable foundation.
22. I wish I could undo some of the mistakes I've made.
23. I wish I had a better relationship with my daughter.
24. I wish there was more time to do all the things I want to do.
25. I wish I could consistently be true to my Authentic Self.

One interesting (and hopeful) thing I've learned from this exercise is that I'm actively pursuing 8 out of the 25 wishes on my list. I guess that's a start, right?

What a Hunk!!!

Here's a picture of my nephew modeling the sweater that I knit for him. I know I'm biased, but isn't he adorable?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Knitting for the Seasons

Okay... Here's a question for you. When do you switch over to knitting spring/summer sweaters and when do you start on fall/winter sweaters? Maybe it's the fact that it's been in the 70's for the past few days, which is rare for central VA, but I'm really getting the urge to start on my spring sweaters. I have the yarn for several winter sweaters, and I've already started a couple of them. But I'm wondering what's the point of spending the rest of the winter knitting them when by the time I've finished, they'll be too warm to wear. And plus, I won't have any cool new sweaters ready for spring. On the other hand, I don't want to knit with heavy wool yarns in the summer either to have them ready for next fall. What's a girl to do?

The Best Year Yet

It's been a while since I've blogged, and I've missed it. But I'm back! The holidays were more quiet than festive, but I think that's a good thing. The past year was a very intense one for me and my family so the quiet time was helpful in reflecting on 2004 and preparing for the new year.

It was a bittersweet year. I lost a dear aunt, a great-aunt who was like a grandmother to me, and a dear colleague who died tragically. I've faced the on-going challenges of raising a teen-aged daughter while still adjusting to a relatively new marriage. I've juggled being wife, mother, friend and business-owner, sometimes more successfully than others. I've undergone major surgery and have a stack of medical bills to show for it.

On the other hand, my relationship with Christ as grown more intimate than ever. I've found a church home. I've made a wonderful set of new friends who share my passion for knitting. I've met my business goals in terms of accounts payable (now if I could just get everyone to pay on time!). After a protracted breast cancer scare, the tumors were removed and turned out to be benign. And we've welcomed a new baby into the family (my cousin adopted a beautiful baby boy who is bringing so much joy to our family despite the recent loss of my aunt - his grandmother).

So all in all, it was a good year. I read somewhere recently that some years are for questions, and other years are for answers. I think there's some truth to that. I started a journey last year on a path towards Simple Abundance. I asked a lot of tough questions. Sometimes the answers were painful, sometimes they were so simple that it was almost funny, and other times I had to fight my tendancy to deny the obvious and to recognize that my procrastination is not born of too much to do, but of lack of focus, downright laziness or fear.

And I've started getting some answers. Really good ones. For the first time in my life, I honestly believe that I know who I am, what I want, and what I need to do to make it happen. Now is the perfect time to start making it so. It's not about focusing on what I don't have, but recognizing and appreciating all that I do have, and realizing that I can and will bring abundance into my life on many levels.

So I went away for a few days of rest and relaxation. I visited with family and friends, which was great, but I also spent some quiet time reflecting on my accomplishments and lessons learned (not always from my accomplishments) in the previous year. Then I spent some time thinking about all the things I'd like to do this year It was hard, but I narrowed the list down to my top 10 goals for the year.

I used a modified version of a process I've been using for the past several years that came from a book called Best Year Yet . After identifying each of the many hats I wear, I was able to define my roles as: Authentic Self, Wife/Partner, Mother, Friend, Business Owner. Each year I pick one role to focus on. In the past several years, I've picked each one except my Authentic Self, which I noticed wasn't even on any of the previous year's lists. How interesting is that? No wonder I struggle with the other roles. How can I take care of anyone else if I'm not taking care of myself? I'm reminded of the instructions from the flight attendant each time I board an airplane. In the event of an emergency, should the oxygen masks drop, we're always instructed to put our mask on first before helping other passengers with theirs. There's a reason for that!

I believe that true commitment to our intentions means putting them "out there". So for me, out there is right here:

  1. To continue to strengthen my relationship with Christ in all that I do.
  2. To have a love affair with my Authentic Self.
  3. To develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  4. To write and self-publish a book.
  5. To buy a baby grand piano, and play the hell out of it. :)
  6. To be a more thoughtful and more focused wife, mother and friend.
  7. To get and keep my home clutter-free.
  8. To at least double invoices (and collections) in my business over 2004.
  9. To get completely out of debt.
  10. To be a better steward of my finances.
I think that about sums it up. That's enough for one year. To make sure that I meet my goals, I also came up with a series of specific action steps that I can take to make sure that I reach them, including measures of success. I know I can do this. I'm looking forward to the journey. This is going to be my Best Year Yet!

Monday, January 03, 2005

New Button

Thanks to my new pal Prudent Purl, I now have a button for my blog. It's on the right side of the page underneath my profile. Isn't it beautiful?

Thanks so much Prudent Purl.