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March 2018

In Quiet Celebration

"I decided if you're lucky enough to be alive, you should use each birthday to celebrate what your life is about."
                                                                              ---Mary Steenbergen

Today is my birthday.

I'm 59.

And I'm damn happy about it!


Ten years ago, when I was turning 49, I was in a much different place.  I had a kid in college and a kid in high school.  I had a puppy.  My husband was really busy with his job and traveling a lot.  I was looking for a new job.  I spent a lot of time and money hiding the grey in my hair.  I was dreading my next birthday.  And . . .  I was beginning to seriously worry that there was something wrong with me.

By the time my 50th birthday rolled around, though, I was so happy to see it.

Although I never think having cancer was a "good" experience, I  know that it brought a perspective about life and living that changed everything for me.  As I celebrated my 50th birthday, I was just a few weeks out of chemo.  My hair hadn't grown back yet.  I was just beginning to feel strong enough to take a walk around my neighborhood every day.  I was fragile, but ready to begin living again.  Trust me -- I had no regrets or concerns about turning 50!  

I'm pretty sure that this entire decade of my 50s has been different because of my cancer experience.  Although I likely would have gotten to the same place (physically, emotionally, spiritually) eventually, I'm pretty sure my new perspective got me there faster!  Before cancer, I can't imagine I'd have let my hair just be its natural white.  I think it would have taken me longer to go out without worrying about putting on makeup.  I know I would never have started a blog.  I doubt I would have had the confidence to take art classes.  I would have thought meditation was too "out there."  And I'm certain I'd still be just dreaming and waiting-for-someday to travel.

Being diagnosed with cancer . . . and then coming through treatment . . . just brought a sense of clarity and immediacy to just LIVING.  Really . . . this decade of my 50s has been so much richer because I suddenly understood (in a very real way) that I actually wasn't going to live forever!  That I needed to take responsibility for embracing every day that I have.  That if I wanted to do something, I better do it now.

I am so lucky . . . 
to have been diagnosed early
to have a new treatment protocol available
to have had the support of Tom and my kids, my sister and my parents
to have LIVED.

So, my birthday is a big deal to me.  It's a marker that I've reached another year.  I'm still here.


And damn happy about it!

The Sparkle Bonus

We have three stained glass windows in our house.  One is embedded in a cabinet in the kitchen, and two of them are in a corner of our bathroom.


They are definitely a unique feature - and I wish I knew their story.  But I don't.  (It's one of those things I wish I'd asked the sellers about the house - they were the original owners and had the house built to their specs.  But I never even thought to ask at the time.)

When we moved in, and up until 3 years ago when we did The Great Bathroom Renovation (because the shower leaked), the bathroom was covered in busy, dark wallpaper and had dark carpet on the floor.  I would notice the stained glass windows, but not much -- because the room was so dark and rather like a cave.

Something totally unexpected happened, though, after our renovation.  We replaced the carpet with a light, neutral color and removed that dark wallpaper, substituting a soft neutral shade on the walls.  We also replaced an old and unused jacuzzi tub with a "fitness corner" that includes my meditation spot.  So, the bathroom was suddenly light, open, and . . . sparkly!

Because in the morning, when the sun is shining, my stained glass windows do these three things:

1 - They reflect the bright colors of the windows on the floor (which move across the room as the position of the sun changes through the morning).


2 - They create dancing rainbows on the carpet (because those small circles in the window are prisms).


3 - They create a moving lightshow on the walls.


It's magical!

I love walking into the bathroom on sunny mornings.  It never gets old.

And to think . . . we lived with this for 12 years before discovering it!  The dark wallpaper and carpet completely hid the beauty and magic of those windows.  We only discovered it when we lightened up the room in the Great Bathroom Renovation.

I call it . . . the Sparkle Bonus!


To read more Three on Thursday posts, hop on over to Carole's.

Unraveling . . . Life

So, I'm still knitting away on my little mitered squares project . . . 


It's fun.  It's easy.  It's slow.  I like playing with the colors.  It's a great way to (finally) use all the Koigu I've had rolling around in my stash for oh-so-long.  And it's rhythmic.

Which gives me time to think as I knit.

And as I stitch, I've come to see that this project is actually a pretty good metaphor . . . for life!


  • Life plays out on a neutral background.  There are plenty of colorful bits, and every now and again a bright pop of color.  But's it's the ordinary, everydayness of neutral that holds it all together.

  • Balance is essential.  Too many pops of color in one place throw the balance off . . . making you crave more of the neutral, that more ordinary rhythm of things.


  • Building a strong foundation makes for structural integrity.  Yes, it takes a long time to build that foundation, but once it's there, you know you can make anything happen.

  • Focus is the key.  When you want to get something done, chip away at it a little bit every day.  One stitch at a time . . . adds up.


  • A colorful life is a messy life.  Regular maintenance - and cleaning up your messes as you go - can keep things humming right along though.

  • Risk is good.  Don't be afraid to make a mess.  It's fun.  And besides, once it starts coming all together, no one will see the mistakes, the missteps, the crookedness . . . except you.  Perfection is over-rated.

  • Life is about resilience.  Sometimes you have to re-think and adapt.  Problem-solving is a good thing.  It makes us stronger and it keeps our brains supple.  (And that's a story for another Unraveled Wednesday.)   (Just sayin.)

What are you unraveling today?  (In knitting or in life. . . )


To read other Unraveled Wednesday posts, check out the links in the comments over at Kat's.

The Color of Gratitude

Last week I pulled a new card from my Sacred Invitations card deck. . . 


You might remember . . . last November, I was writing quite a bit about gratitude here on my blog.  Specifically, I was talking about my efforts to notice, record, and acknowledge gratitude in my life.


Back in November, I did a lot of reading about the benefits of developing a regular gratitude "practice" and the power of writing gratitude lists (which I had done before -- but always on a rather hit-and-miss basis).  I found a lot of quotes, I read some great essays, and I was more committed than ever to gratitude as a daily practice.


Although I'm a lifelong journal-er, I have never had much success in keeping a long-running, written gratitude list.  While I think about the things I'm grateful for every day, I have never been particularly inspired to write them down in an actual list (and I have tried . . . many times). 

But after all my research, I decided to give it a try again.  I jump-started it by creating a more "artful" list in November.  I used a piece of illustration board, and created a spiral of gratitude.  I used my watercolor pencils and a water brush to "paint" it, and once I was finished with my list, I included some quotes and poems about gratitude on the margins.

It was fun and colorful and kept me interested and engaged . . . while focusing every day on gratitude.


But once the holidays were over, and the dark and dreary days of winter set in, I was - once again - less inspired.  I continued to think about gratitude every day.  I created daily lists in my head.  I just couldn't quite figure out a way to be inspired about writing them down!  

Since I had tried keeping special gratitude journals in the past - without much success (I think it was the structure that did me in) - I decided to try other options.  First, I decided to just keep it simple by recording my gratitude list as part of my daily journal writing.  (But I found I missed seeing my gratitude in its altogether-ness.)  

Next, I tried a "gratitude jar" where I added a brief gratitude note each day.  (But that felt cluttered and cumbersome to me.  Besides, the jar always seemed to be in the way on my desk.)  

Finally, I thought back to what I had liked so much about my November list.  I wanted to figure out just what it was that had me looking forward to writing my list each day.  And then I realized . . . it was the creativity and the COLOR!


And then . . . inspiration hit!  Last year, Carole sent me a special journal with coloring doodles built right in to the pages.  I decided to use that color journal to keep track of my daily gratitude lists -- using brightly colored ink. 

So far, it's working!  Now I look forward to grabbing my pens and my journal every day to jot down my lists -- and do a little color-doodling, too.  And to avoid the structure problems that plagued me with gratitude journals in the past, I've decided not to date my lists, and to just let them flow without regard to a certain number of items.  Some days I write long lists, and some days I write short lists.

But one thing is consistent:  my gratitude lists are full of COLOR!


How about you?  Do you keep a gratitude list?  And if you do, what form do you keep it in?


Sometimes Mondays

. . . begin with stillness.


"Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen -- that stillness becomes a radiance."
                                                                                                ---Morgan Freeman

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Bloomin' Friday: Early Spring Edition

I am happy to report that we have no snow on the ground.

We have sunshine and blue skies.

Don't get all excited, though.  We also have cold north winds.  And they've been blowing for a few weeks now.  
(Apparently, the same weather pattern that is sending nor'easter after tedious nor'easter to the east coast is keep those cold north winds blowing here.)  

So it's cold.  Bitterly cold.  
(Which is such a rip-off when the sun is shining so brightly, y'know?)

Not much blooming on this sunny, cold Friday.  
(Even the crocus are staying pretty much in tight bud right now, holding out for just a bit of warmth.)

Outside, that is.
Inside, though?  That's another story.  Because I've got blooms!


The last blast from my amaryllis crop.


And my "Christmas" cactus . . . blooming at Easter time.  
(As it does.)  

Hope you've got something blooming in your world!
Happy Friday.

Cutting the Cord?

Early last November, right before I left for the Alabama Chanin workshop, I did something I never thought I'd do:  I went on a Facebook "fast."  I decided to just . . . take a break.  I even deleted the app from my phone.

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 7.53.03 AM

I never intended for my Facebook break to last that long.  I just wanted to see if I could do it, really.  I thought I'd just . . . take it off my phone, and then check it now and again on my laptop.  

Why?  What was my intention with this Facebook "fast"?  Well -- I had identified Facebook as one of the major contributors to a general sense of annoyance and irritation in my life.

I was reading too much news.
Clicking into too many enticing headlines. 
Watching far too many humorous videos.
Spending a lot of time "liking" friends' posts and photos . . . that I was also "liking" (and maybe even "triple-liking") over on other social media platforms.
Monitoring the activity on my own posts.
And becoming more and more aware that Facebook had become a swamp of garbage.

Really.  I was making myself kind of nuts.  

It was super, super hard for the first two days.  (Which made me realize how addicted I'd really become to my time-sucking, brain-numbing scrolling.)  But after those first couple of days, I hardly missed it at all!  (Kind of like giving up sugar.)

By the time I got back from Alabama, I found that I didn't even think about Facebook anymore.  I didn't miss it.  It just became a non-issue for me.  (And you know what else?  No one missed me either!  No one even noticed that I was gone!)

And now.  Here we are.  Four months later.  Still not missing Facebook.  After this latest Facebook "indiscretion" unfolding in the news before us, I've decided to reduce my "Facebook footprint" even more.  If you're confused about what's happening over at Facebook, or if you're considering the rather drastic step of shutting down your account, here are three things to keep in mind:

  1. If you have an account at Facebook, make sure you've got the facts about what happened.  This article from the New York Times is a good place to start.

  2. Understand that simply deleting your Facebook account won't necessarily "erase" you from Facebook.  It's a complicated web out there!  You may actually be better off doing a serious review of your privacy settings.  Here's a great article that explains why you can't just hit "delete" -- and it includes excellent links and descriptions of how to modify your privacy settings.

  3. Try a "Facebook fast" like I did.  You might discover . . . that you don't need Facebook as much as you thought you did!

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 4.44.38 PM

What am I doing now with my Facebook account?  I'm cleaning it up -- downloading things I've "saved" there (photos, videos, etc. that I want to keep) and then removing them.  I'm getting rid of personal information (my contact information, my birthday, where I went to school, how I'm related to people, etc.) that I really don't need to share.  I'm putting the most strict privacy settings in place.  I may even "deactivate" my account.  But I probably won't delete it all together.  Yet.

How about you?  Are you thinking twice about your own Facebook account?


Head over to Carole's to read more Three on Thursday lists!


Equipment Failure

There are so many ways of unraveling.


Sometimes, you pick up your knitting.
Notice a rough spot on the tip of your needle.
Take a closer look.
Maybe try to just flick a little something you see there on the tip.
And . . . OOPS.



How about you?  What are you working on this week?


Want to read more Unraveled posts?  Check out the comments over at Kat's.

Treasure Box

I have many little treasures in my house.  Little somethings that bring me joy.  Like this tiny spinning wheel.


My great-grandfather made this little treasure.  He was quite handy with wood -- a furniture-maker by trade.  This tiny spinning wheel was in my great-grandmother's room on a shelf when I was a little girl, and I always admired it.  (The treadle works to make the wheel go round and round.)  (This is the same great-grandmother who taught me to stitch.  You know . . . the one who didn't blink an eye when I stitched my work to my skirt?)

When my great-grandmother died, the spinning wheel went to my dad.  And when my dad downsized last year, it came to live with me.

I love seeing it there, on my bookshelf in my library.


Such a treasure!