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May 2019

An Anniversary to Celebrate

Today . . . marks my 10th anniversary of blogging.

Which just kind of blows my mind.

Ten years ago today, I gathered my courage
(what if no one read it)
(or cared)
(or it was stupid)
and hit "publish" on my first blog post.


I actually started my blog as part of my "healing plan" post-chemo.  

During the time after my chemo ended (February 2009) and I started my blog (May 2009), I struggled with how to live . . . as a "survivor."  My old life was over.  I needed a new way to BE in the world!  I discovered a wonderful book - Picking Up the Pieces: Moving Forward After Surviving Cancer by Sherri Magee and Kathy Scalzo - that helped me move forward with my recovery by reclaiming my mind, body, and spirit.  (The authors use a puzzle piece analogy throughout the book, which is a great way to think about things:  the pieces of "me" were all still there, I just needed to figure out how to arrange them in a new way.)

Through several months of reflection and journaling and think-work, I developed my own "healing plan."  One of the things I wanted to do was to somehow make myself feel "real" again; to join the world in a new way; to put myself out there.  

I decided to start a blog.  

And this blogging thing has been so much . . . MORE . . . than I ever, ever imagined or anticipated.  I have found friendship, support, and inspiration every single day.  (Thanks for that!)

I hope you'll celebrate with me today.  And I hope you'll stick with me for a while longer.  I've got some new ideas and changes coming in the near future.  Nothing all that drastic, but after 10 years . . . well . . . you need to mix things up and keep things fun and fresh.  Stay tuned.

And . . . thanks so much for being here!



Sticking With It

I used to be addicted to my snooze bar when it came to waking up.  Like . . . I used to purposefully set my alarm for an hour or more before I actually needed to wake up . . . just so I could hit the snooze - repeatedly - before finally dragging my sorry a$$ out of bed in the morning.

It was getting ridiculous.  (Especially because I got out of the habit of paying attention to my alarm, and sometimes didn't even "notice" it anymore.)

So I decided to break myself of the habit.  I got a new alarm clock with a new and highly annoying alarm.  I moved it across the room so I would have to actually get out of bed when it went off.  And I made a commitment to myself to keep moving once I got up and shut off the alarm.

It's been 18 months now.  And it's working!


It was hard for those first couple of weeks.  I SO wanted to just hit the snooze bar and head back to my bed.  But I didn't!  I have trained myself to be an early riser (I am not, by nature, an early riser), and I'm finding that I actually like it.  I've discovered a few benefits to consistently getting up early (three, in fact!):

First, I've developed a nice, quiet routine for myself in the morning.  I let the dogs out and feed them, grab a cup of coffee, knit a few rows.  Once I feel awake, I usually meditate -- which all helps me start the day relaxed and centered.

Next, I'm more ready (as in alert and aware) to get started with my day.  Allowing myself the time to wake up gradually and mindfully means I'm not feeling stressed and rushed when it is time to get going . . . with whatever I've got going.

Finally, after 18 months of getting up early (and without a snooze bar fest), I've gotten to the point where I barely need an alarm clock anymore.  I just naturally. . . wake up . . . at the same time every morning.  I'm also sleeping better at night.  

There are still mornings where I'm tempted to crawl back in bed.  But I don't.  And once I'm up . . . I'm up.  This is one of those habits I'm really happy to be sticking with!

How about you?  Are you an early riser . . . or not so much?  What habits are you trying to stick with?


Be sure to check out more Three on Thursday posts over at Carole's!

Part of the Plan

(Click here for a soundtrack to accompany this post.)

It's so nice . . . when your plans come together.  


Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must
It's a part of the plan

A finished sweater that's perfectly my style -- AND wearable right now, so bonus!


Knitting with intention - right there in the sweet spot!  (Part of the plan.)

(Ravelry details here.)


Check out more posts from Kat and the Unravelers here.

Learning While Flailing

This year, when I set out with my word (intention), I decided on a few goals for myself.  I wanted to . . . 

  • make deliberate choices and act on purpose
  • be clear about who I am and why I'm doing
  • accept aging with grace, humor, and a bit of kickass
  • live my best life every day

And, generally, I feel like I'm figuring things out and making connections and feeling pretty good about the progress I'm making so far.


But I'll admit that his month, I struggled.  I don't know that I'd go so far as to say that May was a total fail when it came to me and intention, but I certainly did lose my footing for a while there this month.

I started May knowing exactly what I wanted to do.  I had a clear set of goals and intentions for myself, and I fully expected to just roll right through with my plans.  But things broke down along the way.  Life happened: I took a weeklong trip, Spring exploded and suddenly there were new tasks and schedules and seasonal things to do, unexpected stuff popped up that I needed to deal with.  Spinning. Out. Of. Control.

What happened?  

Now that I've given myself some time to process, I think it's this:  Intention needs to meet reality.  You see, I can be really clear about what I want to do and in which direction I want to head out in.  But if I don't also anticipate potential obstacles I may encounter along the way, I'm just going to end up frustrated. In May, I was thinking magically -- ignoring my calendar and the change in routine that May always brings.  

I wrote something in my journal way back in January:  Intention is more than wishful thinking -- it's willful direction.  This month, I learned what that means:  "Willful direction" needs to include reality.  Intention is making deliberate choices and acting on purpose -- but it also requires anticipation, planning, and flexibility.

(I always learn the best stuff when I'm flailing.)

How about you?  How are you doing with your word this month?



Surprise Inside

I received a package in the mail the other day - something I had ordered - and it had a little cheery surprise inside:  This happy coaster . . .


An excellent reminder, don't you think?

Have a great weekend (a long one here in the U.S.), and I'll see you on Tuesday.


Remember, today is the last day to put your name in for my May Stash Giveaway.  Comment by 5pm EST TODAY if you're interested!


Reading Along

It's Three on Thursday, and I'm in the midst of a busy and emotional day.  So let's talk about something easy . . . 



Here are three things I'm reading today:

  1. Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker -- one of the books on the short list for the Women's Prize for Fiction this year.  This award is one I always pay attention to because the books tend to match up very well with my taste in reading.  While my goal is always to read all the books on (at least) the short list before the award is announced, I usually can't because of differing publication dates between the US and the UK.  But this year?  When I finish Silence of the Girls, I'll have read all the books on the short list!  The winner will be announced on June 5 this year.  (My favorites?  Either Circe or Milkman. I loved them both.)
  2. This essay from The Atlantic about Mary Oliver and the distractions of technology.   Really worth a read.  (I'm not actually reading Upstream today.  But I needed a placeholder in my photo . . .  and it works.)  (But now that I've got it out . . . well. . . I might read a few pages.)
  3. A travel book about Coastal Alaska.  Because Tom and I are headed there in July!  After finalizing all the details for our trip yesterday, it's time for the educational part.  (Our trip is part of our 60-for-6o celebration.  You know . . . we're turning 60, Alaska is turning 60.  Of course we'll head there!)

How about YOU?  Reading anything interesting today?


Speaking of books . . . Mary is hosting Summer Book Bingo again this year!  Click here for the scoop.


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

Final Countdown

I love to knit.  But I don't knit very fast.  
(Mostly because I also love to do lots of other things besides knitting.)  
(And there are only so many hours in the day.  Y'know?)

But I have reached what I call the "Final Countdown" phase with my current knitting project.


So close to the finish I can taste it!

Plus -- I can tell it's all going to come together well ==> It fits + I like it = big win.
(Bonus:  I can wear it as soon as I finish.)

But you know what I like best about the "Final Countdown" phase?  Well . . . now I can start really planning my next knitting project in earnest!


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

Walking Miles In Her Shoes

Last month, I started a "conversation" here about wellness -- and specifically about fitness, and especially as we age.  Based on your comments, I'd say we all pretty much fall into one of two camps:  

(1) those of us who have discovered strategies to make fitness a part of our lives, and
(2) those of us who would like to.

I thought it might be helpful to have some of the folks in the first camp . . . share their fitness and workout strategies with those in the second camp.  And I decided to start with . . . my sister, Diane.


Di works full time in a busy office.  She is super active outside of her job with a civic organization, her church, a bell choir, her friends.  She is an avid symphony-goer, attends concerts and plays as often as possible, fits in her hobbies . . . AND . . . finds time to walk between 4-5 miles each day.

As in EVERY day.  Mostly outside.  In all seasons.  And she lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming where the weather is not always (or even usually) . . . pleasant.

And she's been walking this way . . . for DECADES.  Like. . . since the mid-1980s.  She walked through bad boyfriends.  She walked through moves and new jobs.  She walked through pregnancy.  She walked through health issues.  She walked through a significant weight loss.  She walked through happiness and frustration and heartache.  She just . . . walks every day!


Di gets up early every morning, and after a cup of coffee, she puts on her shoes (or spike-y snow boots, depending on the weather) and hits the road.  She walks about 3 miles through her neighborhood every day before work (she has 3 regular "routes" to choose from).  When the weather is bad enough, she walks inside on her treadmill (she does have her limits) (for example, she won't walk outside if the "feels like" temperature is below 10oF).  But she really prefers walking outside -- fresh air, things to look at.  (True confession:  She finds the "dreadmill" boring.)  

Then, during her work day, she takes another half-hour walk as a break, where she clocks another mile or two!

Although she occasionally listens to music, she usually just walks in silence.  In the morning, it's a great way for her to meditate and think and center herself for the day.  During the day ("second walk"), she can walk out some of the frustration of her workday -- or have some time for a bit of problem solving.  And, if she's quiet and paying attention, she often sees interesting things (yesterday it was a bunch of antelope walking down the road, and a duck herding her babies across the street).

I asked her if she gets bored . . . with the same fitness routine every day . . . for all those decades.  Nope, she said.  Sometimes she has a "here-we-go-again" moment as she steps out the door, but she's never bored once she gets started.  She also claims to never have any problem getting out the door for her walk.  (If you're familiar with Gretchen Rubin's "Four Tendencies," my sister is an Upholder.  Like . . . maybe the Poster Child of Upholders.  Doing-what-she-sets-out-to-do is never a problem for her.  Never.)  (Just sayin.)

What's Di like best about walking everyday?  For her, the exercise mixed with quiet contemplation brings peace and centering to her days.  Plus, she really likes getting up and out and finished with her walk before the day even starts!  She chooses to walk alone -- because then she can do it on her own time schedule.  (Not many people are willing to walk with her at 5:00 am.)  Plus, that quiet time on her own is something she craves.  Basically, Di likes walking because it's simple to do, doesn't require special equipment - except shoes, can be done anywhere/anytime, and you don't sweat (except on really hot days).

Her advice for others wanting to start a walking routine:

  • Figure out what works best for you.  What time of day?  Do you want to walk alone or with someone else?  What route(s) can you take easily -- right from your front door or workplace?
  • Invest in some comfortable walking shoes.
  • Be prepared to head out in a variety of weather conditions. Dress for the weather.  Carry a flashlight if it's dark; an umbrella if it looks like rain.  And your phone.  Know your route.  If you're going to walk from work, keep a spare pair of shoes and appropriate layers in your office/car so you're always ready to go (even if you forget your stuff or the weather conditions change).
  • Make a commitment to yourself -- then keep it.  Consistency brings results.  (Upholder.)  (Like I said.)
  • Have a plan for what you'll do when the weather keeps you inside.  (Di has a treadmill at home.  She also recommends the Leslie Sansone Walk-at-Home workouts for when you're stuck inside.)
  • Even a daily 15-minute walk is better than not walking at all!  Just get out there and take those steps!


What do you think?  Are you interested in starting a walking routine?  And if you already have one, what advice might you add?


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




Sometimes . . .

. . . it's the third Monday of the month, and that means it's time for another stash giveaway!


This particularly lovely skein is from Briar Rose Fibers.  It's their Angel Face lace weight -- 100% alpaca, 2500 yards/2286 meters, 8 oz./228 grams.  There is no color name, but it's a lovely hand-painted skein featuring autumnal shades.


The colors here are pretty close to accurate (at least, on my screen).  The colors range from a burnt orange to rust to an almost-mahogany with some sepia tones thrown in to balance it all.  

It's really lovely.  So soft.  A treat for the eyes.


The yarn is wonderful -- 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 - if it would.  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.)


Wise Words on a Friday

"Today's goal:  Be careful not to sleepwalk through the only life you have.  Wake up.  Blink hard.  Stretch.  Keep moving."
                                                        --- Maggie Smith (the poet, not the dowager)

IMG_3055 2

Wise words!

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday with this month's Stash Giveaway.