September = Fresh Start

Dear Self

The One Little Word prompt for September involved writing a letter to . . . yourself.  Here's mine.

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Dear Self,

I know you were looking for . . . something . . . when you chose the word JOURNEY for 2015.  I know you wanted to wander (a little) off the comfortable and well-worn path of your life.  You used the words "shake up."  You used the words "explore" and "discover" and "get a little lost."

Remember?

(You did.)

And, as usually happens with this One Little Word thing, you get what you're looking for.  (That's why you sign up every year, right?  That's why you put up with all the prescribed arts-and-crafts scrapbooking bullshit and commercial "kits," isn't it?)  Because, turns out, the process - and the monthly prompts - all work for you.

So, yeah.

OLW strikes again.

Life took you on a JOURNEY you weren't quite expecting when you signed on to this gig.  You landed in some kind of wilderness - one that you wouldn't have picked for yourself and really didn't expect.  And -- AH! -- that's the real beauty of a JOURNEY.  Sometimes you know where you're headed, and sometimes you don't. I kind of remember . . . that you were hoping for a JOURNEY where you didn't quite know where you were headed.

And.  Well.  That's what you got!

Now that you're moving again -- out of that wilderness and onto a path you didn't know existed back in January - you've learned a few things.

Like. . . 

Heading out on a JOURNEY when you don't exactly know where you're going . . . is risky.

Getting lost . . . means being uncomfortable.

And (like with any trip), it's important to pack lightly.  Which means . . . letting go.  Getting rid of what you don't really need.  Ideas.  Objects.  People who drag you down.  Commitments you shouldn't have made in the first place.

Because being lost -- really being lost -- and wandering (even flailing) in the wilderness for a while might just be the best way to find out who you are, what you might want to do, and how you want to live the rest of your life.

When you set out on a JOURNEY - any kind of journey - you should expect to come back changed.  And, y'know, you don't get to direct what that change will be.  It just . . . happens.

So.

Here's to "getting lost."  And "exploring."  And "discovery."  Here's to "shaking things up."

Keep going.

XO,

Kym

"Cherish your wilderness." -- Maxine Kumin

 


Working on My Fitness: A Fresh Start

(Okay.  So you may wonder what this photo . . . 

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has to do with fitness.)  (Read on.  It will become clear.)

Way back in January, when I was setting my intentions and goals for the year and thinking about the whole JOURNEY thing, I stated that I wanted to "shake up my fitness routine this year."  At the time, way back in January, I knew this would be a challenge.  Not the fitness part (because that's easy for me) -- but the shaking it up part.  Because I liked what I was already doing:  running, dancing, kickboxing.  But it was beginning to feel a bit . . . automatic.  (And besides, I was noticing a bit more arm-jiggle and knew I needed to add some weight training.  Or something.)  So.  Shake it up.

But how?  Because, as it turned out, I didn't really want to give anything up. . . 

Enter:  LIFE.

First, there was the ankle tendinitis issue.

Then, there was the knee issue that flared up as a result of fixing the ankle tendinitis issue.

That'll do it!

No more running.  No more dancing.  No more kickboxing.

BIG shakeup.  Nothing BUT shakeup, in fact!  I needed to strip everything away (except yoga and spinning) and start from scratch.

I started swimming again.  I got back into Pilates.  I discovered that the elliptical machine can be okay in 30 minute bursts.  I found another good spinning instructor.

And this morning - at 5:45 AM, mind you - I found out that I like Power Yoga.  (I might like it a little more if it were offered a bit later in the morning, but oh well. . . )

And THAT . . . is how the photo of the sun rising over my butterfly garden relates to a blog post about fitness.  Because this morning, after Power Yoga and some time on the elliptical machine, I arrived home in time to SEE the sun rise over my butterfly garden.

Although it has been a disappointing year, fitness-wise, in many respects (I really did love my dance class, y'know, and I was kind of getting into the running thing), it's ending out just fine.  The forced time off - and the resulting "re-thinking" about how to protect myself from further injury - have paid off with a fitness Fresh Start.

I'm finally getting that 'shake-up' I was looking for back in January!  (Still trying to get that arm-jiggle under control, though. . .

 


Lessons from Inside the Parentheses

Today . . . is the first in a series of personal "anniversaries" marking the beginning of my cancer diagnosis and treatment.  Much as I try to put these dates and events out of my mind, they tend to make their presence known . . .  down at my very core.  

And especially in September.

So forgive me while I revisit these ghosts of my past . . . and try to make sense of my experience seven years ago.  (It seems to happen every year in September.)

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Recently, I read a rather wonderful analogy of personal crisis (be it a cancer diagnosis - or any one of the myriad other Things That Go Wrong).  The author suggested that "catastrophes provide a pair of parentheses in which to live apart from real life, depositing you rather abruptly on the sidelines for a bit while normal life continues to eddy downstream."*

This description completely resonates with me.  When I was first diagnosed with cancer, and then for the long months of chemo, I craved only one thing: my normal life.  All I wanted was to live outside those parentheses again!  Back then, in the midst of treatment . . . I swore I'd never take the ordinary-ness of my days - the normal stuff- for granted again.  I looked forward to celebrating the little inconveniences of every day life.

And - for a time - after treatment, I did.  Because cancer is a very good teacher teacher.  It forces you to face up to what you should have known all along:  that life is fleeting, there is little time, and no room for regrets.

At first, after treatment, I felt . . . shiny and new, sanded and polished, incredibly fragile.  I knew - for sure - that I would never experience life in quite the same way again.  While I stepped lightly - but purposefully - away from The Edge, the colors seemed brighter and the boundaries sharper -- and everything tasted much, much fresher.  I took more risks, I reached out, I tried new things, and I spoke out louder and sooner than ever before.

But then one day . . . I was stuck in traffic.  I got impatient.  I yelled in frustration.  And then I realized . . . that I had gotten normal back.  I had moved away from The Edge, and out of the shadow of my cancer ordeal.  I was - once again - cranky about a routine traffic jam, something absolutely unimportant!

I had moved outside the parentheses -- away from the catastrophe and back to normal life.  (It's amazing how resilient we really are.)  But sometimes, it's good to revisit those lessons we learn inside the parentheses.

That's where I am right now.

It is September, after all. . . 

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*Lynn Darling in Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


September = Fresh Start (And, yeah. You're in the right place.)

And suddenly you know:  It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.
                                                                                                     ---Meister Eckhart

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If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you may remember that I think of September as the beginning of the year.  (I guess that old academic calendar is firmly embedded in my psyche.)  

September . . . just always reminds me of new shoes and fresh crayons and a new lunch box. Starting over in a new grade with a blank slate and a year full of possibilities.

So now seems like the perfect time to roll out a fresh look for my blog!  There will likely be some further tweaks as I work with this new format, but it's a good start.

September.  Let's begin!

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My special thanks to Vicki, who designed my new blog banner and provided much-needed technical support along the way.  XO Vicki!   


Wade On In

A little Eva Cassidy for your day. . .

 

Although I complain about it while I'm doing it, I love to knit lace.  It's so magical!

You start with a pile of knitting. . .

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You give it a good, long soak. . .

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And, then . . .

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Voilá!

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You've got lace!

And, ahhhhhhh.  The water's just fine.

(Ravelry details here.)

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(And, if you're counting, that's #4.  I did it!  I wrapped up all 4 knitting projects in September.  Now I can start something new!)


Laugh With the Sinners

Today, let's enjoy some vintage Billy Joel. . .

 

When I was a little girl, I loved pocketbooks.

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I had a little white, vinyl pocketbook . . . and a little black, patent leather pocketbook.  I could only use them for special occasions.  Like going to church.  Or maybe for family events at my Grandparents' house.  I loved them. 

I have very fond memories of my little pocketbooks.

Which is why, when I saw this bag, I just had to make it!

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Impractical.

Stupidly expensive.

Futzy beyond imagining.

But.  It's an adult version of my little, patent leather pocketbook.

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And have it, I must.

Like all Noni bags, the knitting is easy; the construction a challenge.  The devil is always in the details with a Noni bag!  And the hardware (and face it, it's all about the hardware) is ridiculously expensive.

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But still.  I love it.

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I'm a total sucker when it comes to nostalgia.

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(I still have that teddy bear, too.  His name is Billy.  He is threadbare beyond belief.  And, these days, he watches over my sewing machine.)

Ravelry details here.


Are You Hanging on the Edge of Your Seat?

Sing it, Freddie!

 

In my continuing quest to wrap up some futz-y knitting (and finishing) before the end of the September, I bring you . . .

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Yes! 

Another one bites the dust!

This one wasn't terribly futz-y. 

Except for the part when I ran out of yarn with 7 rows to go.  THAT was futz-y.

And, then. . . well, there was the braiding.

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THAT was futz-y, too.  But totally worth it.  LOVE the braid.  (And, as an added bonus, I now know how to make friendship bracelets.)

Oh, and the lining.

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Futz-y.

But, in the end, a rather cute little bag. 

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And another one gone. . .

And another one gone. . .

(Ravelry details here.)


Happy New Year!

I celebrated my own, personal version of Rosh Hashanah on Sunday evening.

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I'm not Jewish, and I have never celebrated Rosh Hashanah before. 

But this year, I decided it was time. . . to partake, at some basic level, in the Jewish New Year!

So I ate my first Honeycrisp apple of the season.  With some honey (and, truth be told, some peanut butter, too).  And I set about writing my goals and resolutions for the coming year.*

  • Freshen up
  • Pare down
  • Sharpen tools
  • Get out
  • Keep moving
  • Big stretch
  • Make room
  • Try things
  • Pressure OFF
  • Consume responsibly
  • Explore faith
  • Create light
  • Express myself
  • Eat well

Happy New Year!

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*Writing my goals has actually been a month-long journaling project.  I'll spare you the details, but just know that each of the two-word goals listed above has a corresponding "story" and set of sub-goals. . . deep in the heart of my current journal!


On the Way

A gardening tale.

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Once upon a time, back in 2005, a Gardener planted a garden.

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And it looked pretty darn good.

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But Gardeners have a tendency to tweak.

And plants have a tendency to grow.

And, over the years, the garden started to look a bit . . .

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Ragged.

Unkempt.

Overgrown.

Plants were too crowded and no longer getting proper circulation.  Pests were a problem (thrips, in particular).  The garden path was completely obscured by plants and mulch -- and far too narrow to navigate comfortably. 

This garden was just plain tired. . . and in particular need of rejuvenation.

(Besides. . . the Gardener had an entirely New Vision.  It happens.)

So the Gardener and her Intrepid Digger spent much of the summer digging up and moving (and, in some instances, composting) many of the sad, sorry, overgrown plants.

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It was not a pleasant task.  It was certainly Not a Pretty Place this garden season.

But, over the months, the garden space became more clear.

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Daylilies and daisies and small, unidentified shrubs found new homes.  Peonies and roses succumbed to thrips and were, sadly, removed.  The survivors were pruned and trimmed and divided.

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Newcomers joined the Improved Garden Space.

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A new path.  A fresh layer of compost.  New plants. 

So much better.

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The rejuvenation is taking shape!

Still a work in progress.  Not Happy-Ever-After quite yet. 

But the Gardener is definitely on the way!


A Sort Of Metaphor

Over the weekend, I sat on my patio and looked across my yard, and I saw this. . .

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My pergola.

A cool and private oasis in my landscape. 

Green. 

Shady. 

Comfortable.

And it got me thinking. . .

because . . . well . . . it wasn't always like that.

Four years ago it looked like this. . .

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Nothing.  Just dead-ish lawn and a clear view to my neighbors' house.

I had always, always dreamed of having a pergola . . . or an arbor. . . or a gazebo.  With a swing.  And wisteria.  But I never really thought I'd actually have one.  Not in that spot, certainly.  Not anywhere.

But then I got cancer.

And needed to occupy myself during the four months of chemo treatments.

So I dreamed.  With landscape design books and gardening magazines open all around me.

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I decided I wanted to change my view.

I decided I wanted to create the spaces I'd always only dreamed of having.

I decided to make my dreams . . . happen.

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And I had help.

My friend, Sandie.  Who encouraged.

And Tom.  And Brian.  And my Dad.

They dug in.

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They plowed under.

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They raised up.

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They set down.

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They hammered in.

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My pergola.

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Because they love me.

And there it was. . .

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Raw.

Naked.

Stark.

In need of planting.

No one would see the pergola and not know it was . . . new.  Raised from what used to be there.

Kind of like . . . I was. 

But now . . . 

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Why, it looks like it's been there forever.

And always.

The structure is sound. 

The roots are deep. 

The edges are smoothed out.

Kind of like . . . me!