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February 2020

January 2020

Workin' on Her Fitness: Part 1 In What Will Be a Yearlong Series

Last year, I devoted several blog posts to fitness-related topics.  I shared information about why fitness (and specifically weight training) is especially important for us as we age.  I included links to a few workout options to get you started -- I provided some tips for equipping your own home gym . . . and some for finding a gym.  I also shared stories about women who have made a commitment to their own fitness.

And, generally, y’all seemed to respond well to these posts. 
(So look for more in 2020!)


This year, I've also cooked up something else to inspire you to get fit!  I’d like to introduce you to a special blog friend who has made a major life commitment to getting herself in better shape.  I thought it might be interesting, fun, and inspirational for you all to hear about what she’s doing this year -- with regular check-ups each month to see how things are going for her.

So . . . Meet Kim!


Many of you likely know Kim already, from her blog . . . or because of her luscious and beautiful hand-dyed yarns.

Kim lives in the beautiful mountains of New Hampshire with her husband, Ken.  She has 5 kids – all grown and “launched” now (she raised a nurse, a restaurant manager, a teacher, a brewer, and a marketer), and 7 amazing grandchildren.  After working in the “dog world” for over 25 years (as a dog breeder and exhibitor, with a dog club, and for a veterinary hospital), Kim has recently switched careers to work in a hearing aid shop.  She is, of course, also an independent yarn dyer and owner of The Woolen Rabbit.  (Kim started her yarn business 15 years ago – in those early, pre-Ravelry days of knitting-on-the-internet, launching her business via blog posts.)


After Kim blogged about her goals related to fitness earlier this month, I contacted her with an idea . . . and we started a conversation about sharing her story and experiences more broadly.  Kim generously agreed to allow me to interview her for my blog – not just this month - but once each month for the rest of the year!  Here’s our first conversation – the start of an exciting new fitness chapter (for Kim AND for my blog)!

Kym:  So, Kim.  Tell me about your fitness goals for 2020.

Kim:  My goals going into this new year – and new decade – are to take responsibility for my physical heath and personal self-care.  For me, that translates into building on my love for walking, snowshoeing, and kayaking (things I already do) with added weight training/weight lifting to make my body healthier and stronger.  I am also going to give meditation a try.  I’m working with a self-care group, and the coach stresses the importance of recognizing our thoughts about ourselves through meditation.

I LOVE to walk!  I am so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place here in the mountains of New Hampshire.  I love to toss on my walking shoes, put my ear buds in, and enjoy the tunes along with the beauty of my environment.  It’s when I do my best thinking!  I’ve decided that despite my overloaded schedule, I AM going to take an hour lunch break on the 3 days a week that I can get away from the office – and I’m going to use that time to work on my fitness or self-care.


Kym:  Those sound like terrific goals, Kim!  What prompted you to choose them?

Kim:   Well, I'm 61 -- which means I’ve just entered the 7th decade of my life.  I know that NOW is the time to look at my choices and make changes before it’s too late.  I know it’s never really too late to take care of yourself – but it gets harder to stave things off as you get older if you don’t pay attention to your health.  (Yikes!  How did I get to be this old already!) (Ha.)

Kym:  Looking ahead, what do you anticipate will be your biggest barriers to success?

Kim:   Myself!  I have a busy schedule now that I am back to working in the 9-5 world, along with dyeing, so I can usually find a reason to excuse myself from doing the work that I need to do.  I can be a BOSS at procrastinating the things that would help me the most!

Kym:  Oh, I can imagine many people can relate to THAT struggle!  How is your plan for building strength and fitness this year different from things you’ve tried in the past?

Kim:  As I mentioned, I’m working with a self-care group that has a focus on changing our thoughts about weight loss and fitness.  The process is more about learning how to value your worth, and not act in self-deprecating ways.  It’s been an eye opener for me!  In addition to being part of this group, I’m signing up for the Beach Body On Demand videos, so I can do training here at home when I can’t get outside.  Our local gym recently closed, so right now I would have to travel too far to go to another gym.  With my work schedule, it would be too easy for me to put it off -- and I know I'd never get there.  A set of weights is on its way here right now!

Kym:  It sounds like you’re off to a great start!  You’ve identified the outdoor activities you love doing, and you’re planning ahead for busy days or bad weather with an indoor fitness back-up plan.  Plus the weights!  And it sounds like your self-care group will give you the support to make real change.

Kym:  Here’s something I always ask people when I’m talking to them about their fitness plans (because I do think there is something very “real” about our tendencies and how they play out in our fitness habits):  Have you taken Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies quiz?  And if you have, do you mind sharing your tendency?

Kim:  Yes.  I’m an Obliger!  My self-care group is a perfect way for me to build accountability into my fitness goals, and will be the right place for me to increase my self esteem and self worth.



I think it sounds like Kim is off to a great start with her fitness and self-care plans for 2020!  I hope you are inspired, too, and that you’ll look forward to hearing more of Kim’s story as the year unfolds.  Be sure to join us next month!


Have a great weekend -- and I'll see you Monday!

January Blahs

Usually, I have the January Blahs because . . . winter is never-ending and there is so much snow and the sun doesn't shine.

This year, I have the January Blahs because . . . even though it is WAY warmer than usual, winter is still never-ending - even when there is hardly any snow - and the sun still doesn't shine.


January is simply a bleak and dreary time!

It is warm(ish).  At least for typical Michigan standards.  We've had some snow, but not nearly as much as usual.  And what snow we have had has been really wet and heavy.  We've had a ton of precipitation:  rain, freezing rain, "wintry-mix," more rain. Just not much snow.  The snow we do have on the ground right now . . . is frozen and crunchy and hard to walk on.


And . . . we've had 4 hours of sunshine all month!  (And not in a row.)

No matter how you slice it, January is just a drag.

So I decided it would be best if I stop whining; if I try to turn it around a little bit.  Maybe . . . think of things that I could find to be grateful about this January.  It was hard!!!  But I came up with three things:

  1. Driving is much easier.  (There have been a couple of bad days, but . . . nothing like usual!)
  2. There have been no snow days.  (Which means none of my gym or art classes have been canceled so far!)
  3. All the moisture is good for the trees we planted last fall.  (And none of my plants are in danger of extreme temperature damage!)



There you go.  Three things to be grateful about . . . on this crappy January day.


Be sure to check out other Three on Thursday posts today over at Carole's!  (And . . . Carole?  She talks just like those "smaht pahk" guys in the commercial!  Just sayin.)



Knitting on my gray cardigan continues.  
(I'm deep into the second sleeve.) (Knitting flat.)  
(It is a big gray blob.)  
(Nothing to see here.)  
(Move along.)

So I'll show you something else.

When I had the flu a couple of weeks ago, my brain was in a deep fog.  I couldn't manage much.  I couldn't knit.  I couldn't read. My eyes hurt too much to watch tv.  But I could sit on the couch and doodle!  I grabbed a piece of illustration board and a black pen and I started drawing . . . grid shapes.  Then I got out my watercolor pencils and a paintbrush.  And I started doing this. . . 


It got me through those long, sick days.

There was not much to it.  Just grids.  Color.  And some shading.

I had so much fun with it, I kept going.  Even after I was feeling better.  Now it looks like this.


I think it's finished.  (Although I keep messing with it.)

IMG_6673 2

Adding little details here and there.


Messing with the color.


It's a good . . . counterbalance . . . to knitting a big blob of gray cardigan!

How about YOU?  What are you making today?



One Little Word . . . 2020

I've been choosing a word each year* . . . for as long as I've been blogging.  This is the first year, though, where my word wasn't immediately clear to me from the get-go.  This year I had a concept . . . before I had a word.  I really had to work at finding the right word this year!

I knew I wanted to pull together a lot of things I'd been working on and thinking about already, but I also wanted a word that was more active.  A word that got me up and moving.  A word with energy.  A word that was forward-thinking. A creative kind of word.

And then . . . it came to me.


This year, I want to . . . find my flow.
I want to be the flow.
(So I can live my best life.)  
(For the rest of my life!)

"The more in harmony you are with the flow of your own existence, the more magical life becomes."
                    --- Adyashanti


*My past words:  move, shine, surprise, possibility, journey, risk, balance, focus, and intention.

Monday Means

it's time to . . .


(On Monday mornings, I share a few things I found over the weekend.)


"A sobering thought:  what if, right at this very moment, I am living up to my full potential?"
    --- Jane Wagner




Okay.  So today's word is . . . not so interesting, really.  And we all know what it is and what it means.  But it's worth a bit of pondering anyway!


Here's a little opinion piece from The New Yorker that talks about . . . milk.  And its evolution from something everyone drank (definition 1 b (1), above) . . . to, well, more the "food product produced from seeds" version (definition 1 b (2), above).  It's interesting.  (And did you know that milk - the traditional kind - is one of the official beverages of the impeachement trial?)  (You can't make this stuff up.)



Have you seen Greta Gerwig's Little Women movie yet?  I am a huge Little Women (the book) fan, and I loved the new movie version.  Not only did I like the way Gerwig chose to tell the story, but I loved the way the whole movie looked.  And especially the costumes.  What a feast for the eyes!  Period details, historical context -- and so much color and texture and layering and . . . hand knit shawls!  If you loved the costumes (or if you're just interested in costuming and/or fashion), you might like to read this piece about Jacqueline Durran, the costume director for the movie (and one of the Oscar nominees for Best Costume Design).  

(And here's a link to the Little Women movie trailer.)  (Those costumes!)



I tend to be very monogamous in my "making" process.  I (pretty much) knit one thing at a time.  I tend to be the same way with my stitching or sewing or even drawing.  So I tend to finish what I start . . . and usually in a fairly timely manner.  (I know. Bor.Ing.)  But I understand that lots of Makers do things differently -- and love having multiple projects going at the same time.  

If you fall into the latter category, you might be interested in this blog post from the owners of Wool & Honey (a really charming and wonderful yarn shop in Cedar - near Traverse City - in northern Michigan).  The post explains how to use "The Gideon Method" for finishing those projects you may have hanging around.  It's pretty brilliant!



And now . . . I have a question for you.  Over the weekend, I went to a little "wine and wool" festival with a friend, and while I was there, I purchased 3 wool dryer balls from one of the vendors.  I've been wanting/meaning to make some wool dryer balls for myself for quite some time, but . . . there they were:  ready made and selling like hotcakes!  So I bought three and give them a "spin" in my dryer yesterday.

And my dryer (a very nice and perfectly functional Speed Queen dryer) . . . didn't like them.  
At all.

As in . . . my dryer shut off after a minute or two of drying with the wool dryer balls bouncing around inside.  Repeatedly.  When I dried the load in my usual way - without any dryer balls - it worked without a hitch.  What is going on here????

At first, I thought maybe the dryer balls (which are pretty dense, to be sure) were bumping the dryer door open and stopping the cycle.  Nope.  I had Tom check the dryer vent to see if it was clogged.  Nope.   I googled.  It doesn't seem to be an issue for others.  

So I'm throwing it out here:  Any ideas about what might be happening here?  Has this happened to anyone else?

(And . . . anybody want 3 brand new dryer balls?)



And that's it for me this morning!
I hope your week is off to a great start.



One Final 2019 Wrap-Up

Before the new year becomes . . . well . . . just THE year, I want to take one last look at my word for 2019: intention.


Because . . . it turns out intention was a trickier word than I anticipated it would be.  And I learned some very important things from it.

Like, well . . . 

Intention is not really an extension of focus (my 2018 word).  Or . . . not like I expected it to be at any rate.  For me, focus was about clarity. Figuring out what I wanted to focus on by figuring out what I was focusing on. Important work, to be sure.  I initially thought that intention would be about following focus.  But it was so much more than that!

Intention is about purpose.  About being deliberate.  About understanding the why behind my decisions and my choices.  It was more thoughtful and less active.  It involved . . . creating a pause . . . building in a thoughtful and deliberate beat between an idea or a thought and my taking action about that idea or thought.  I trained myself to be more mindful of what I was doing and (more importantly) why I was doing it.  And this was a very good thing.  

To really be intentional . . . meant I needed to be very, very clear about the what and the why.  At first, I thought that would be easy.  Because I'd done all that focus work already.  I knew what I wanted to focus on in my life.  But I learned that . . . focus is a fleeting thing.  Life is fickle.  New things (or ideas or thoughts) come along all the time.  So it's easy for our focus to be pulled in new directions.  I figured out that I needed something more . . . stable.  More permanent. So I developed a list of my personal values . . . which are the underpinnings of my everything, really.  Focus areas may change.  But my personal values don't.

(Here's an example.  At the beginning of 2018, I jumped on the "make nine" bandwagon, and chose nine projects I wanted to make during the year.  I thought it would be a good way to focus on things I wanted to make.  It was not.  I think I only made one of those items.  Was it because I lost my focus?  Was it because I wasn't intentional enough?  Did I fail?  Nah. I came to understand the next year - in my year of intention - that I didn't "fail" with the "make nine" thing at all.  Because I did make nine things in 2018.  Just not the nine things I set out to make in January of 2018!  Turns out that - for me - the "make nine" thing was fickle.  It only represented nine things I was interested on that day.  The real and important thing?  One of my personal values is "making things."  And I was very deliberate, very purposeful . . . about "making things" all year long.)

So rather than think of intention as an extension of focus, I changed my thinking a bit.  Focus and intention are related -- but that relationship is tricky!  My intention work got so much more sharp and successful when I linked my intentions to my personal values . . . instead of my more fickle focus areas.

Another key thing I learned in 2019 is that no matter how clear you are about the whys and whats and the alignment of action with personal values . . . well . . . intention still meets reality.  There are only 24 hours in the day, after all.  And weather happens.  And other people's values/intentions don't always line up with yours.  There are seaonal variations.  Health issues.  Personal quirks.  Things just come up.  So even when your best intentions set you on a path for greatness, it's still going to be a bumpy ride with plenty of obstacles in your path.  Adaptablility and flexibily are key.  Even (maybe especially?) when it comes to intention.

I also ended the year with a big question for myself:  If we make time for the things we really want (focus/intention), and I say I really want to do something . . . but then I consistenly don't make time for actually doing the something . . . what does that mean?  And what does it mean that I do make time for stuff I'm only meh about????  (I'm still pondering that one.)


Intention was a great word for me last year . . . in ways I really didn't expect.  I learned so much.  I did a lot of thinking and journaling.  I put some new things into practice in my life.  I came to understand myself in a whole new way.  And I even developed a solid exit plan for a big commitment I've had for a while that just does not line up with my personal values.

That's the power of one little word!

(I can't wait to see where 2020 takes me.)


Tune in next week.  I'll tell you about my word for 2020.

Plain Vanilla



Nothing fancy.


And after not being able to knit last week (couldn't even knit with that dang flu), I am finally making progress on the long-awaited gray cardigan.  (That's what binge-watching Cheer on Netflix will do. . . )

(It's this sweater in this yarn.)

How about you?  What are you working on?


Throwing out this question for you:  I'm planning to knit the sleeves on this top-down sweater flat.  (Why?  I hates knitting sleeves top-down in the round.  Hates.)  What's your preference . . . knitting sleeves flat?  Or in the round?

Read With Us: Fever

Read With Us

Mary Beth Keane's Fever is our current Read With Us choice.


Maybe you've already read the book . . . maybe you've just picked it up . . . or maybe you're still thinking about it.  Wherever you fall on the spectrum, I hope you'll read along with us!

Fever tells the story of Mary Mallon, better know as "Typhoid Mary," the first asymptomatic carrier of the Typhoid virus.  Set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, Keane deftly blurs the lines between fact and fiction in this historical fiction novel. Keane helps us make a powerful connection between the past and the present by inviting us to step inside the mind of Mary Mallon, to see the streets of New York City from her perspective, to meet her friends and neighbors, and to share in events of the times.  The book brings "Typhoid Mary" out of the history books . . . and into our lives.

Mary Beth Keane, author of Fever, is an American writer of Irish parentage.  She has written 3 books:  The Walking People (2009), Fever (2013), and Ask Again,Yes (2019).  In 2011 she was named one of the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" and in 2015 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fiction.  Her novel, Ask Again,Yes debuted at #5 on The New York times Best Sellers list in June 2019, and was selected as The Tonight Show Summer Read choice for 2019 after five days of audience voting.  In August 2019, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to discuss the book.  (I've included The Tonight Show clip at the end of this blog post in case you're interested.)


There will be much for us to discuss together next month!  I hope you'll join us.

Book discussions will take place on Tuesdays in February.  Rather than divide the book into chapters for discussion, we'll be taking a different approach with this book and hosting discussions based on topics related to the book.  Watch our blogs for more information as we get closer to the discussion dates.


Be sure to check out previous Read With Us posts about Fever:

  • Carole shared background information about Mary Mallon -- including photos.
  • Bonny shared interesting facts she'd learned about Typhoid and and other asymptomatic carriers.



Back At It

I'm feeling much better.

Tom is safely back home.

In other words, I'm settling.  It's Monday.  Time to . . . 


(On Monday mornings, I share a few things I found over the weekend.)


"I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear."
     --- Martin Luther King, Jr.




Tom suggested this week's word to me.  It's one we both run into quite often in our reading.  It's fun to say . . . and fun to think about.


(Interesting tidbit:  This word is often capitalized.  Why?  Well . . . it's a German word.  And in German, nouns are capitalized!)

What's the zeitgeist of the 21st century?  A quick google search indicates that maybe it's globalization.  Or misanthropy (hint: general dislike of humankind).  Thoughts?



The Oscar nominations came out last week.  Because we go to the movies all the time, Tom and I have already seen most of the nominated movies across the major Oscar categories.  Here's a quick rundown of the Best Picture nominees, including tips on where you can see them.  (My favorites?  I'm firmly in the Parasite camp this year, but I also really liked JoJo Rabbit, Little Women, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.)  What's your favorite?



I just finished reading a new book, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas D. Kristof and Cheryl WuDunn.  (You can read reviews/more about the book here and here.)  This book is about marginalized American people, and my friends . . . it is a real gut-punch.  It's depressing and discouraging and frustrating.  But it also . . . explains a lot.  How we got here, as a country, and where we might go in the future.  If we all work together.  And, yeah.  The book is written by two people leaning left.  But they don't just tow a progressive line. They also validate conservative stances on personal responsibility and the importance of a strong work ethic.  They are looking for solutions -- where we (as a country) could do the most good to change the tide. It is one of the more balanced perspectives I've read -- which is refreshing.  Because it's going to take all of us - working together - to fix the mess we're in.  (The book does offer hope, with many possible solutions -- both for the country as a whole and for individuals.)

It's worth reading.



And . . . just for fun . . . here's an article about "craft trends" for the coming year!  Get ready for stained glass, color blocking, chartreuse, 3D printing, embroidery, and a continued focus on both eco-crafting (mending, zero-waste, use-what-you-have) and inclusion in the craft world.


I hope your Monday is off to a great start!
(I know I'm happy to be back at it this week.)




Happy Friday, everyone.  The world is looking sunnier this morning (even though its really not) because I am definitely on the upswing!


After gallons of orange juice, many cans of Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup, mugs upon mugs of tea, and more sleep than I usually get in a month . . . I am feeling (nearly) human again.  I've even declared myself ready-for-prime-time, and I'm headed out for a much-need and already twice-rescheduled haircut.*  (The first reschedule was not due to The Sickness.  But the second one was.)  

I especially want to thank you all for your kind words of support and sympathy during The Sickness.  It helped to know you all were out there, cheering me on and sending the juju.  XOXO

And now . . . let's get out there and have a great weekend, shall we?


*About that haircut.  I've been working on growing out my WAY too short pixie cut for about a year now.  It's slow going, and my hair stylist has been helping me keep things looking (pretty) good through the tedious grow-out phase (as is right, as she is the one to blame for the WAY too short pixie cut in the first place) (you'll look like Jamie Lee Curtis she said) (uh . . . not really, so thanks for that).  Anway, I have now reached the most awkward stage of the grow-out . . . The-I-Look-Like-the-Quaker-Oat-Man-and-I-Can't-Do-a-Thing-With-It Phase.  (Help!)