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April 2019

Summing It Up

Okay.

So, last week I wrote a blog post that asked a question:  What's stopping you from starting to focus on your fitness?

I'm just gonna admit it.  This was a scary thing for me to do.  Because what if you thought I was full of crap, talking about fitness on a (sort of) knitting kind of blog.  What if you weren't interested?  What if I was just way off base on that topic?  What if . . . no one even responded???

But.  I think I wasn't really off base.  Because you DID respond.  And I am so honored to have received your responses.  (Thank you.)

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It turns out that many of us share the same barriers to working on our fitness:

  • TIME  . . . turns out to be The Biggie.  Finding it.  Having enough.  Balancing it with our other priorities.
  • What I call "The Hassle Factor" is also big.  Needing to change in and out of appropriate clothes.  Having the right gear.  The distance to a gym.  Sweat.  Dealing with our hair.  Depending on someone else's schedule (the gym's, for example).
  • Boredom.  Just not liking to exercise, generally.  And being bored while we're doing it.
  • Needing to find a partner or "accountability buddy."  Because for many of us, it's easier to exercise with a friend.
  • Health issues.  It's not as easy to move as it once was.  Injuries mean we need to change up our preferred ways of moving.  It's hard to get started again after a set-back.
  • Weather.  Too hot.  Too cold.  Too windy.  Too icy.
  • Isolation.  If we living in a rural area, it's hard to find a convenient gym.  Or a nearby exercise buddy.

It also turns out that many of us are motivated by the same things when we do focus on our fitness:

  • Wanting to feel better.  Lose some weight.  Be healthier.
  • Being part of a "community" of exercise friends and "accountability buddies."
  • Our dogs!
  • Wearing our fitness trackers or watches.
  • Finding good instructors or trainers.
  • Our grandchildren.
  • Endorphins.

We're very willing to share our advice and tips for what does work for us:

  • Figure out what you like to do, then do that.
  • Find the time of day that works best for you.
  • Mix things up to avoid boredom.
  • Schedule your fitness first, and then work your schedule around that.
  • There's a lot of value in a 10-minute workout.

Best of all . . . You shared your mantras!

  • "Get outside and GO." (Margene)
  • "I can do anything for 10 minutes." (Carolyn)
  • "I'm training for my next decade." (Yvonne)

So.
Now what?

Oh, stay tuned!
(Because now I'm really motivated!)

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Don't forget to check out this month's Stash Giveaway.  Comment by Friday at 5pm EST if you're interested!

 


Time Again

. . . for another stash giveaway!

This month, I have 4 skeins of Noro Ayatori in a charcoal/grey/chartreuse mix.

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This (now discontinued) sport-weight Noro yarn is 60% wool and 40% silk, and feels very much like a slightly thinner version of Noro Silk Garden.  There is 155 yards per skein, and the yarn would make a great scarf or shawl.  Originally, I had planned to knit this scarf with it -- and I still think that would be a great option.  And check out this Hitchhiker knit with this very yarn!  

The yarn is especially lovely -- but it has been sitting in my stash for a very long time now.  It's time for it to go out in the world and bring joy to another knitter!

How about YOU?  Would it bring you joy?

Let me know in the comments - by this Friday.  I'll choose a winner on Friday at 5:00 pm EST (through a highly scientific, random draw-a-name-from-a-hat process), and will contact the new joyful owner for their address by email.

Thanks for letting me share the joy!

(Tell your friends.)


 


It's Friday . . . Let's Celebrate with Poetry

During April, it is my intention. . . to share some of my favorite poems and poets with you.  Poems and poets that you may not be as familiar with, but that are still accessible and full of insight.  Poems and poets I think you'll like.

Poems and poets like this one . . . 

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Balance
by Jane Hirshfield

Balance is noticed most when almost failed of --

in an elephant's delicate wavering
on her circus stool, for instance,
or that moment
when a ladder starts to tip but steadies back.

There are, too, its mysterious departures.

Hours after the dishes are washed and stacked,
a metal bowl clangs to the floor,
the weight of drying water all that altered;
a painting vertical for years
one morning - why? - requires a restoring tap.

You have felt it disappearing
from your own capricious heart -- 
a restlessness enters, the smallest leaning begins.

Already then ineveitable,
the full collision,
the life you will describe afterward always as 'after.'

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Jane Hirshfield (one of my very favorite poets) is known for combining keen philosophical meditation with spare domestic observation; she often writes of turning points or moments of insight that resonate with readers.  A prolific poet, Jane Hirshfield is also an essayist and translator, and she has published two important anthologies of poetry by women.  Two interesting facts about Jane Hirshfield:  She graduated from Princeton as a member of the first graduating class there to include women, and she took a break in her early career to study at the San Francisco Zen Center.  You can learn more about her here.

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The annual Poem-in-Your-Pocket day is Thursday, April 18 this year.  Think about sharing YOUR favorite poem with your friends next Thursday.

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The poem Balance is from Given Sugar, Given Salt, published by Harper Collins in 2001.  Poem copyright Jane Hirshfield.


Greeting Spring In My Garden

"I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose, I would always greet it in a garden."
                    --- Ruth Stout

Spring is fickle, to be sure. 

But it's also. . .  here.  (Finally.)  
And Ruth Stout is right: I will always choose to greet it in my garden.  
Which is definitely coming back to life!

Sweet crocus are blooming.

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My hellebores are waking up.

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And my larch tree is greening up again.

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My garden is the perfect place to greet the spring!
(Even though it's cold and windy today.)  (But, hey.  No snow.)

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Head over to Carole's today for more Three on Thursday.


Because You're Never Too Old . . .

for an Easter Basket from your mom, are you?

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These little guys are so cute -- and so quick and easy to knit.  (You could easily crank one or two out by Easter. . . )  (Just sayin.)  I just used scraps from a couple of other projects.  And I used ready-made pompoms (because my pompom game is not up to par when it comes to smaller sizes).

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Wouldn't you love some"bunny" to love?

(Ravelry details here.)

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See what's Unraveling today over at Kat's!


Let's Start With What's Stopping You

I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately . . . about physical wellness . . . and, specifically, about exercise.  Or working out.  Or fitness.  Or whatever we choose to call it.

And why it's so very hard for most people to DO.

(Because it is.)

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I decided I don't need to write a blog post about WHY we should focus more on our fitness.  Because we already know that.  

I decided I needed to write a blog post about . . . what's stopping us from doing it.  What is it, exactly, that's keeping YOU from a fitter YOU?  Could it be . . . 

  • that you just really don't like exercising?
  • that you hate to sweat?
  • that you don't know where to start?
  • or that you've "failed" so many times before you just can't bear to try again?
  • or maybe because you're just too busy?
  • don't have time?
  • don't have energy?
  • that you don't have a gym nearby?
  • or that you hate gyms?
  • that you'll do it some other time . . . later . . . ?
  • that you don't think you can do it on your own?

There are so many reasons for not doing it; so many reasons for not moving.  
What . . . do you think . . . is the nugget of something that keeps you from moving?

I think that's the place we should start!

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Let's discuss this!  Leave a comment and let me know what's stopping you from starting . . . working on your fitness.  And - if you have started (yay!), please share your tips.  Because we can all learn from each other.  

I'll put together a little summary for next week -- and share some things I've been reading lately that may help us all get moving.


Moody Broody Lake Michigan

On Saturday, Tom and I were in South Haven (Tom and 4 friends having just run a 33.5-mile relay from Kalamazoo to South Haven on the Kal-Haven Trail).  While Saturday started out foggy in Kalamazoo, the fog burned off during the run and it ended up as one of those beautiful, sunny, blue-sky spring days.

A great day to head out to the South Haven beach and walk the pier!

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Or maybe not so much.

A block from the pier, the sun was shining.  But as we got closer to Lake Michigan, everything was socked in with fog.  Very . . . moody-broody.

(Usually, at this point in the walk, the bright red lighthouse at the end of the pier is an impressive sight.)  (Promotional shots here.)

It was fun (and chilly) to walk the pier in the fog.  Everything was subdued.  Kind of . . . wrapped up and quiet.  
Eventually, the lighthouse revealed itself.

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This moody-broody fog is "sea fog" or "lake fog" -- a phenomenon that happens when warm, moist air flows over cold water.  It happens over coastal areas of the oceans, the Gulf of Mexico . . . and the Great Lakes.

I'd never experienced it on Lake Michigan before (although I've seen it pretty much every time I cross the Golden Gate Bridge).

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Things are always interesting on the lakeshore!

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Ahhhh.  There's that bright, red lighthouse!

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Happy Monday!

 

 

 

 

 


Fridays in April: Reserved for Poetry

It's April . . . National Poetry Month.  
And you know what that means.  
Every year in April, I share some of my favorite poems and favorite poets on Fridays.  

I also encourage you to give poetry a try.  

I know many of us had rotten poetry teachers in school, which got us off on the wrong foot with poetry.  We didn't get it.  No one could explain it to us.  We felt like freaks if we DID happen to like it.  We were made to memorize poems we hated and thought were gross.  It was a "unit" in a literature course that only lasted 2 weeks, and we were happy to have behind us.  

That kind of thing.

But my guess is your rotten poetry teachers never shared the right poems.  The ones that did resonate with us.  Poems like this one . . . 

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A Jar of Buttons
by Ted Kooser

This is a core sample
from the floor of the Sea of Mending,

a cylinder packed with shells
that over many years

sank through fathoms of shirts –
pearl buttons, blue buttons –

and settled together
beneath waves of perseverance,

an ocean upon which
generations of women set forth,

under the sails of gingham curtains,
and, seated side by side

on decks sometimes salted by tears,
made small but important repairs.

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Ted Kooser is a poet from the American Midwest best known for his accessible, conversational style of writing.  While his poetry is rooted in the Great Plains of the United States, his poems resonate universally - grounded as they are in humanity.  He served as Poet Laureate of the Library of Congress from 2004 - 2006, and is currently a Presidential Professor of Poetry at the University of Nebraska.  Ted Kooser also writes children's books.  You can find out more about him here.

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The annual Poem-in-Your-Pocket day is Thursday, April 18 this year.  Think about sharing YOUR favorite poem with your friends that day.

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The poem Jar of Buttons is from Delights & Shadows, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2004.  Poem copyright Ted Kooser.


Wearing Inspiration

I love finding little labels-of-inspiration in things I'm wearing or using. 

Every time I put on this shirt, it reminds me that . . . 

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getting myself outside every day . . . is actually one of the five daily "things" that bring balance to my life.

And I smile whenever I put on this cap . . . 

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knowing that these wise words are right there -- pushing into my brain while I wear it.

And I love to open my wallet to find . . . 

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poetry!  
(Plus - "vexes" is one of my all time favorite words.  So seeing it every time I use my wallet just brings me extra joy.)

But.
I can't quite figure out how these words on the waistband of one of Tom's favorite pairs of pants inspire. . . 

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Thoughts?

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Today's post sort of qualifies for Three on Thursday (let's just say . . . it's three inspiring labels with an extra bonus goofy label and call it close enough). Be sure to hop on over to Carole's today for more Three on Thursday posts!

 

 

 


Digital Unraveling

In November 2017, I decided to rethink my relationship with Facebook.  I was a very regular Facebook user back then. . . posting and like-ing and sharing pretty much every day.  But I got disgusted.  With myself . . . for spending so much mindless time scrolling.  And with Facebook . . . for being Facebook.

I didn't completely let go of Facebook, but I did remove the app from my phone.  I figured I didn't want to give it up completely -- but maybe I could get that scrolling habit under control if it wasn't available on my phone.

The first few days were hard.  I got antsy . . . just wanting to scroll.  But it only took a couple of days, and I found I wasn't missing Facebook at all!  In fact, even though it was still available to use on my laptop, I just . . . lost interest.

Like completely.

And it was a simple decision for me to deactivate my account once the Cambridge Analytics story broke.  (After a year, I reactivated because I thought I wanted to be part of a "group" -- but found I never even looked at it.  So I've deactivated again.)

Anyway.  I proved to myself that (1) I wasn't missing anything by not spending time on Facebook, and (2) it was easier to break that scrolling habit/addiction/tendency than I thought it would be.

Which may explain why this book appealed to me so much. . . 

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(This is how I read library books --- with post-it flags.  The number of flags indicates how much this book resonated with me.) (I ended up with a 9-page Word document of notes I took with this book.)

This book is not . . . anti-technology.  It does not bash smartphones.  It does not recommend getting rid of all your apps.

It does, though, explain the obvious -- that "new technology" has changed our lives dramatically in the past decade.  It explains some of the reasons why.  It points out a few of the rather devious practices employed by social media companies to get us to use our smartphones even more.  But mostly, it encourages us to examine our own technology use (and especially our smartphones) . . . to see how, exactly, we're using them.  Where our time goes.  And how to make our technology WORK FOR US.

The author, Cal Newport, recommends doing a 30-day "digital declutter."  Nothing drastic or draconian -- just a 30-day break from "optional" technologies.  And the first step is . . . to determine your own rules.  You get to decide which of your technologies are "optional."  Then, after the 30-days, you get to re-evaluate.  Which of the "optional technologies" do you want to reintroduce for yourself -- and under what conditions or rules?  (It's sort of like a digital version of the Whole 30 concept.)

I started my own "digital declutter" on April 1.  My goal is to cut down on mindless scrolling (which still happens, of course, even without Facebook).  Here are my rules and conditions for my 30-days:

  • I removed the Instagram and Pinterest apps from my phone.  (Although they are still on my laptop, I don't plan to access either for my "declutter" time.)  (Yep.  That means no Instagram or Pinterest for 30 days.)
  • I have de-activated email on my phone.  (I tend to constantly check my email on my phone, but I never reply unless I'm at my laptop.)  (So why am I checking it on my phone????)
  • I removed all news headline apps from my phone.  (These are a great source of click-bait for me . . . and it never makes me happy.) 
  • I have blocked certain websites (from my phone and laptop) that just distract me mindlessly.  (I'm looking at you Tom & Lorenzo.)
  • I have set up my own rules for using Ravelry.  While I can still use it for adding projects (should I finish any during the 30-day period) or to look up a pattern I already own, I will not allow myself to scroll through the "hot right now" patterns for 30 days.

I also set up my own rules for which apps I can still use.  (Most of these are useful, not optional, or for whatever reason don't tempt me to keep scrolling.)  (Banking, for example.  My meditation app.  The weather.  Evernote.  Goodreads.)  Other not-optional activities for me:  texting, calling, blogging, and listening to audiobooks.

(It's all very . . . intentional.  Y'know???)

It's Day 3 of my "digital declutter."  And I'm not missing a thing.

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How about you?  Have you ever thought about doing a "digital declutter?"