Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Why “Stitches and Words”

Once upon a time, I thought I’d write a knitting blog.  (This story begins.)

Not an uncommon thing, among people who knit, or are involved in other fiber arts.  Especially ones who, like me, learned or re-engaged in knitting by wandering around online looking for patterns and whatnot.  For me, that would have been about three and a half years ago, early 2007.

The main problem with me writing a knitting blog, though, is that my knitting is primarily really boring.

Now, please don’t misunderstand that last statement.  It does not constitute me ragging on myself.  I do plenty of ragging on myself for stuff that is unwarranted, but this is not one of those times.

What I mean is, my knitting is boring as something to tell people about.  I do a lot of pretty darn simple knitting, by choice.  Plain ribbed socks in colorful sock yarn; enormous shawls in stockinette or garter stitch.  I like to have great whacks of really basic knitting around, stuff that’s so simple it doesn’t need a pattern, or anyway not a written-down pattern.  I like the kind of knitting where I can look at what I’m holding in my hands and figure out what happens next, without needing to refer to external instructions.  I like having knitting that I don’t really need to look at a lot, that my hands can handle on their own while my eyes and my mind are free to do something else.

Sometimes I like to work on more complicated things, but I always return to simple knitting.  Usually in the form of something that’s not going to be finished any time soon.  Therefore, as fodder for blogging, my knitting just doesn’t cut it.  Nobody really wants to read about how I added another two rows to my enormous burgundy shawl last evening, and the evening before that, and the one before that.  I don’t want to have to write about it, either, or pretend I can make that interesting.

So.  At one point, a long while ago, before I realized I like boring knitting, I registered a blog, intending to write about knitting.  I called it “Stitches and Words,” because I liked the sound and rhythm of it, and because that’s what it was going to be about.  My mind has a serious philosophical bent, so I always figured I’d end up writing some philosophical things amid the knitting, and about the knitting.  If I can’t help but to think in metaphor, well, maybe for once someone else could get something out of it too.

The knitting blog never really got started.  I think I realized that I just didn’t actually want to do it; it was yet another “maybe if I do this thing my entire life will be different and better and I’ll finally be worthwhile!” idea.  I tend to have a lot of those.

So I had a defunct blog on an ignored WordPress account for several years.  Until a week or so ago, when I decided for entirely different reasons that I wanted to write.  I needed a place to write in, and this place was already here, so here I am.

I’m still a champion metaphorical-thinker, though, so I can retroactively justify the blog name to … whatever this blog is now about.  Wanna see?  Let’s go:

Stitches.  The tiny building blocks of knitting.  The things that make up the things we make; the seemingly insignificant tiny actions that all together add up to something wonderful.  If I may state the seemingly obvious, every single stitch of a knitted piece needs to be knitted.  Sequentially, starting at one end and ending at the other.  You can’t really reduce the process past this.  You can find faster or easier ways to make the stitches, but you have to make the stitches.  Otherwise you’re not knitting.

Words.  Words are important to me, I’m good at them and enjoy using them.  I love to find beautiful or simple or powerful ways to say things, depending what needs to be said.  I love finding rhythm and symmetry and musical lyricism in my words, I love finding just the phrase or word that means exactly what I want to say.  I swim in words; I could eat words for every meal and never get tired of them.  Further, stories are built out of words, and I need stories, I think everybody needs stories.  Stories tell us truth we can’t get at in any other way.

Stitches and words.  Stitches remind me that I can only live one day at a time, like it or not, and every day is part of a whole that is much greater than the parts.  Words help me understand things, they draw me on to see the truth I live and share it with other people.  They beckon me toward seeing life as story, as something that matters, and that I have a part in the telling of.

Stitches and Words.  I still like the sound of it, well-justified or not.  It’ll do.

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A win

Today was really hard. But I’m calling it a win.

I was upset at lunchtime, but pulled it back together well enough to return to work.

I got the three things that really needed to be done at work, done.

I went to taiji class, with no energy and no concentration, and tried. For the first time, I didn’t enjoy being there — was checking the clock to see how long was left. But I stayed and I tried.

I stopped at the grocery store so I can feed myself this week, despite being dog-tired and despondent.

For all of these things, today is a win.

Doing the best I can

Today has been hard. It didn’t promise to be hard; I felt pretty well when I got up, was fairly positive while doing all of my morning things, despite the struggle of the last few days to keep positive in the face of growing depression over feeling stuck in life. I thought I was doing all right.

But then I got to work. Once again, for I don’t know what reason, the old pressure in my chest, my primary physical sign of anxiety, was back. No concentration. Nothing getting done. Nothing to shield myself against spiraling away toward blackness, toward the hopeless thought: I’m so tired of life as it is, and I don’t know how to fix it.

An email was the tipping point. My brother, writing to ask how I was doing, because he knows I’ve been struggling. Fortunately it was near lunchtime, because his simple message brought tears, and I needed to leave.

I found a random parking lot away from my building, and sat for a while, until crying was done. I wrote my brother back, first to say I felt crappy, and later to say I was going to try to suck it up and get back to work and get something or other done, despite feeling crappy, and later again to tell him that distraction is the name of the game for the rest of the afternoon, distracting myself from feeling bad by any means available, podcasts, music, conversations with friends online, email, anything.

(I also wrote my brother, somewhere in there, to apologize for spamming his inbox with sequential messages, but I needed to tell myself what I needed to hear by also telling someone else what i needed to hear. He understood. My brother is several kinds of awesome.)

Amidst crying and praying and sending email snippets, there was a moment where I looked up and said, “I’m doing the best I can, here.” That loosened something. I left random parking lot; I found a drive-through window, where people kindly handed me food for lunch in exchange for a bit of cash, I found another parking lot with some shade. I sat with car windows open, I ate, I watched some video from iTunes, I let the breeze through. I breathed. I came back to work.

It hasn’t been a brilliant day, nor a pleasant one, nor a productive one; it’s not over, and I don’t know how the rest of it will be, or tomorrow, or the rest of the week. I anticipate more hardness to come, and pray that I may be wrong, or that I will have enough courage to bear it. All I’ve got to say for today is … I’m doing the best I can. It doesn’t look like much. It won’t win any awards. Nonetheless, it is what I have to offer the world today. Whether or not it’s enough. I’m doing the best I can.

Two things

I feel muddled. I hate feeling muddled.

Worse, I don’t have any dreams … worse yet, I don’t know how to dream. Not about my life. I’ve never had any “what I want to be when I grow up” plans, and now that I’m grown up, I don’t know how to make any. I’m pacing through the ordinary, the life that grew up around me without a lot of active guidance on my part, and I’m not pointed at anything, no goal, no dream. And it makes me sad. I don’t know how to change, because there’s nothing beckoning me forward.

In Between

Last weekend, I drove myself to a place where I wanted a change — spastic, frantic change.  Dramatic change.  I was convinced upending my entire life was the correct thing to do and would lead to greatness and trumpets and the clouds opening and … um, something.

My family confronted me with the hard, real-life consequences of dramatic change, not because they don’t want to see greatness and whatnot, but because they care, and they are strong realists, and I often am not.

After the frantic energy of keying myself up for several days, the return to normal reality was hard.  My brain was tired and my body was tired.  I kept my nose pointed at my responsibilities and didn’t think about much of anything else, and it was a relief to do so.  For a while.

Since yesterday, depression has been creeping in — so slowly, so gently that I didn’t know what it was at first.  I’m down in the dumps, and I feel rather like I’ve failed.  I didn’t carry through my great moment of change, and so I’m stuck.

I don’t do change well.  Either I want to rush through things and get on to what’s next reallyfast, or I simply don’t do anything differently … ever.  In this case, I don’t think either one is right, but in between is a hard spot for me to be:  the place of slow, deliberate change.  Moving by small steps toward something different.  Choosing to live with the pain of the old for a while, while reaching out toward something else.

I don’t know how to stay in this space, by choice.  My personality drives me to want leaps forward, just for the sake of having things decided and finished.  I have real issues with the concept of “life is a journey;” I need to know where I’m traveling to, or else what’s the point of keeping on walking?

What we do determines the lessons we are going to be offered by life.  If I had chosen the life-upending option, I would have been forced to learn one set of lessons, possibly in a very harsh way.  By not upending my life, I am presented a different lesson:  how to live with the process of deliberate change.  With the danger, so close beside it, of not accepting the lesson, of not changing at all.  I don’t want to stay put, but it would be easy.  For a while.

This is a bitter lesson to face, but it is also one I badly need.  I am praying for the grace to stay with it and learn.

Small goals 8/22/10

DONE Eat breakfast
DONE Review taiji form and Coiling Waist Palm

Today was a day off. Relaxing, knitting, some TV, visiting parents. Time off from tasks, so not much on today’s list.

People and Words

This blog may have more interesting things to read about soon.

After a week of tension and weird-wrongness, I have been brought to a decision that’s been a long time in coming … I need a change in careers.  I don’t love what I do and I don’t want to keep beating myself up for not loving it and therefore not doing a good job of it anymore.  Life is too short, I want to pursue things I love and things I’m good at, and I think things that have more potential to affect the world in a good way.

I don’t know much more than that; all I know is, with that decision made, all of the tension I’ve been holding in all week is gone.  Now I just feel very tired.

I don’t know what is next.  What I do know is, I want to work with people and words.  These are the things that matter to me.  I have no idea what it will look like, but I think “people” and “words” will describe where I belong.

For now, I’m going to sit down and try to stop thinking for a while.  Lord, I need a break.

Small goals 8/21/10

DONE Go to taiji class

DONE Eat lunch out

DONE Get food to make supper

DONE Chicken in crock pot

DONE Sit down

Small goals 8/20/10

DONE Eat breakfast

DONE Drink full cup of juice

DONE spin two tufts of Abbybatt 

DONE Eat lunch and read for 30 minutes

DONE Do nothing for 45 minutes

DONE Review Taiji for 30 minutes

Small goals 8/19/10

DONE Get car inspected

DONE Leave house by 10:15

DONE Call K. Yorks for appt.

DONE Sort out time sheet for week

DONE Request tomorrow off

DONE Two tasks on list at work

DONE Look into weird field error

DONE release PDF file

DONE Knit at least one round on blue/green iPod sock