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October 2020

On Muscle Memory . . . and Hope

All week long, I look for . . . 

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and on Fridays, I report back.

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Hope, like every virtue, is a choice that becomes a habit that becomes spiritual muscle memory. It’s a renewable resource for moving through life as it is, not as we wish it to be.”
                –
Krista Tippett

I read the quote (above) from Krista Tippett early this week, and it's been hanging there in my head ever since.

Hope.
Muscle memory.

I don't know that I would ever have put those two terms next to each other.
But now I do!

When I think about "muscle memory" I think about all those things I just do automatically, but that were hard for me at one time.

Tying my shoes.
Executing the long-tail cast-on.
Threading my sewing machine.
Moving through a vinyasa.
French braiding hair.
Doing a dead lift.

But with enough repetition and practice, I can do any of those things without even thinking about it now.

Perhaps it's that way with hope, too?

These days, feelings of hope and feelings of no-hope-at-all swing wildly in my psyche. And yet . . . I still go through the automatic actions of someone who is full of hope for the future.

I plant bulbs in my garden.
(Hoping for a future spring that is thick with daffodils!)

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I work out every day.
(Hoping for that day 20-some years in the future when I can pick myself up after a fall!)

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I wind yarn.
(And dream of the sweater that will keep me warm and cozy at some point in the future!)

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Just going through the motions  . . . of hope.

It turns out that even when there are . . . things, situations, people . . . who challenge my hope-filled nature, I know that down deep, I've still got hope. It's there. Even when I don't think about it.

It's my spiritual muscle memory at work!

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My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy.

Hang in there.
Try to find some time to let your spiritual muscle memory do its thing.

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PS -- Just in case you're having severe anxiety about the election, I wanted to pass along this link to an article that came out yesterday in The Atlantic. A good reminder . . . that 2020 is not 2016. It gave me a little . . . hope. (At least for a mintue.) Maybe it will give you some, too.

 


Checking In: Talking Fitness Again

Last year, when things felt settled and plans were more reliable (y'know . . . in the Before Times), I talked a lot about fitness and wellness here. And I especially focused on the importance of building our strength and fitness levels as we age. I harped on talked about the benefits of regular movement and strength training. I posted sample workouts and fitness tips and inspirational stories. I even got some of my fitness pals to share their stories and workout strategies!

Now that we're deep into . . . a whole new way of living . . . I thought it might be interesting to check back in with my fitness pals again -- a year (and a lifetime) later. Y'know . . . to see how they're doing, what's changed for them fitness-wise, and to see if they have any tips or words of encouragement for working out during a pandemic.

This week, let’s check in with . . . Carolyn.

(Here's a link to last year's fitness post featuring Carolyn. In case you want to refresh yourself before moving on.)

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Kym:  Hi Carolyn! How are you doing, generally, during these pandemic times? What’s happening for you? Are you working at home? Going to the office? Dealing with kids at home (all. the. time.)?

Carolyn: Fortunately, we're all doing well under my roof. We're all happy to have kids back in school--including the kids themselves! I have a high schooler, middle schooler, and a third grader; all three attend small charter schools (size being a critical factor these days!).  Our youngest is schooling in-person, in a contained group of 13 students, Monday-Friday. My older two have a similar arrangement Monday-Thursday and home on Fridays.  

As I recently described to a friend, life at home feels like my husband and I are getting a crash course in retirement...in what it will be like to be home together. All day. We work very differently, but we've figured out how to flow...go our own ways and come back together, go our own ways and come back together. (It's been good.)
 
Kym:  What’s happening for you fitness-wise? Are you able to work out in the same ways you used to, pre-pandemic? Have you added anything? Modified your routine? Stopped working out altogether?
 
Carolyn: I rarely get to say this, so I'm going to go ahead and say it: I feel like I was ahead of the game on this one! I've been a home workout person since I was 14 years old. So, more than 30 years (give or take some gym membership streaks here and there.) When it comes to fitness, I'm intrinsically motivated. Given that, I'm happy to work out alone, at home. I like to show up, work hard, and be done.*  I've taken plenty of group cardio & boot camp classes in my life, and following a live instructor doesn't feel that much different than following an instructor on video--except  I don't have to spend time driving to and from, scanning my card, getting a spot, waiting for class to start...then doing it all in reverse!). At this point in my life, if making time for fitness meant an extra 30'ish minutes of rigamaroll, I probably wouldn't stick with it!
 
With the exception of yoga. No rush there. And, like you, Kym, I'm an Adriene fan! Why? 1) Her personality 2) Poses are easily modified, up or down 3) She has a video for everything! I've googled "Yoga with Adriene sore neck" or "...lean muscle" or "...strong back" or  "...grumpy mood." And she's got it! Love. Her. 
 
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Two differences since we last talked--first, I've upped my workouts in both time and challenge, because I noticed my strength had waned while on a hike last summer ('19). So a regular workout for me now is 30-45 minutes long; a few days of cardio per week; a few days of strength (my favorite); or some days, a combo of the two; and yoga when I crave it.  I'm not strict or regimented or hard core or competitive--I never have been. What I am is steady...and I feel like that's paid off, over time. I don't even have a dedicated work out hour! Though I know morning is the magic time for a lot of people. My only rule is I Will Exercise Before Dinner.
 
And second, as luck would have it, I had come to love swimming laps at a local rec center a few months before the pandemic hit. It was mostly a weekend 'bonus' to my regular exercise, and my youngest daughter was swimming right along with me for the full hour! We loved this time--and look forward to it again. Eventually.
 
Colorado is at Level 2 right now: Safer at Home and in the Great, Vast Outdoors. So hiking is another way to get a 'bonus' workout in my week lately. I've also started daily walks--at a preserve or a park or just in my neighborhood--solely for my mental health. Contrary to how I've approached walking in the past--for speed, fitness, toning, and lasting about an hour--these walks are slow. Peaceful. An intentional 'emptying my bucket.' And with no particular duration. I notice a significant change in my breathing and heart rate on these walks--similar to how that happens in meditation. And while a different kind of fitness, I believe it's just as much a part of fitness!
 
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Kym:  What are the most important lessons you’ve learned about your own health, well-being, fitness, etc. since the pandemic “hit"?
 
Carolyn:  One is to never underestimate the value of Simple. I try not to overcomplicate things when it comes to wellness, because, for me, that just creates barriers. Or fosters excuses. And then? Fitness (or fill in the blank) won't happen. The second is Moderation. My Gram was a good example for me: She ate what she wanted--but not too much of it. Drank what she wanted--but not too much of it. And she gardened and golfed and was 'on the go,' as she would have said, into her 80s. I want fitness to be life-long.  So I push hard--because I feel best when I sweat a lot or shake in the middle of push-ups. But I don't overdo to the point of injury. I modify when I need to. (For example, I have lousy hip joints, so I have to take it easy with HIIT workouts and Plyometrics--or I'll pay for it.) My attitude at 45 is that I'm working out NOW so I'll  STILL be working out later (just like my Dad).
 
Kym: Do you have any advice for others who may be struggling or trying to figure out how to add fitness into their lives?
 
Carolyn: Fitness is not One Size Fits All, that's for sure! So I think we have to give ourselves permission to experiment--which means, if kickboxing on YouTube didn't go well, for example, it doesn't mean you failed at home fitness! It just means you might try a cardio pilates workout next time, instead. (Seriously--just google anything you want to try and hit Videos. You can even include length of time, like '10 minute standing abs.' You'll have more options than you'd have imagined!) I know there's often resistance to working out at home (& alone), but if you want to give it a shot, I say start small--5 or 10 minutes!  Just make sure you feel challenged in the workout; otherwise, you won't feel a thing the next day. And that's key, I think. That little bit of Wow! I'm actually sore! Good-sore! is just a little addictive. 
 
Kym: What helps you cope with life in the time of pandemic?
 
Carolyn: Time alone! That's the thing about the pandemic--things feel so extreme. Those with too much time alone; those with not enough. And it takes some creativity to find--make--what you need. (In my case, it also takes teamwork. I really appreciate my husband--who gets me--and who helps me make Time Alone happen.)
 
Kym: Any other thoughts you'd like to add?
 
Carolyn: Exercise is great. Just like meditation, and good relationships, and practicing gratitude. But I also think we have to get okay with just feeling like shit sometimes--and not being able to fix it. (Can I say it like that?) To be able to say it out loud: "I'm having a bad day." "I'm in a bad mood. It has nothing to do with you, or anybody else." "I'm mad and grumpy. I love you. Please don't talk to me."  Kinda like that...  
 
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As you can see, Carolyn really WAS "ahead of the curve" with her working-out-at-home routine -- a true poster child for home fitness! She was perfectly positioned when it came to doing Fitness In The Time of Pandemic -- and, whether she knows it or not, served as my role model when I was struggling to make the HUGE jump from gym-based to home-based workouts back in March. (I often thought to myself . . . how would Carolyn do this? what would Carolyn do?) I love that Carolyn has added her peaceful and intentionally slower paced walks to her fitness mix these days. Because finding ways to "empty your bucket" is so important in these highly stressful times.
 
I'd really like to reiterate - with emphasis - a couple of Carolyn's comments. First, she is so right that "fitness is not one-size-fits-all." It may take some time to figure out what works for YOU, but once you do . . . working out is so much easier! And what you like to do may change . . . with the weather, with your mood, with your stress-level. So do take the time to experiment and try some things; surprise yourself! (And, like Carolyn says, there are So Many Options when it comes to online workouts these days. There is definitely something that would work for you.) The other comment from Carolyn I'd like to echo is . . . don't be afraid to challenge yourself with your workouts. Not in an injury-kind of way; we all need to take care of ourselves. But if you're not a little bit sore after a new workout, well . . . maybe you could push yourself a little harder. Go ahead . . . pick up a heavier weight next time!
 
And, if challenge is what you're looking for, Carolyn sent me this link to one of her recent favorite workouts -- a 30-minute video that leaves her "drenched and exhausted." She included this screen shot . . . 
 
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. . . and I'm just gonna say that any workout with "push-up burpees" in it? Yep. That'll challenge you!
 
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So.

How about YOU? How has your fitness-life changed in the past year? Let me know. Let's keep this fitness conversation rolling!

And if you have a video-based home workout routine, what advice would you share? What videos or programs do you recommend?

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Be sure to check out Carolyn's lovely blog. She writes thoughtful, thought-provoking posts twice each week. Always a great read!
 
 
 

Out and About on a Wednesday

It's Wednesday.

Let's go for a walk.

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Although we have lots of trails for walking around here, mostly I just stick to my neighborhood streets when I go out for a walk these days. (Sometimes, as a special treat, I'll load up the dogs and visit a trail. But I haven't done much of that since the pandemic.)

Walking is such a great way to get outside every day -- and the dogs love it. We have a large, fenced backyard . . . which means the dogs get plenty of time outside (and opportunities to "do their business" right at home), so our walks aren't a necessity -- they're just for fun and adventure and a change of pace. Plus -- good exercise all around!

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Jenny - now 13 1/2 - can't manage a long walk anymore, but she's good for a short half-mile or so. (And, trust me, she will not be denied an opportunity to go out for a walk!) Usually, Tom and I walk a half-mile loop together every day -- he takes Jenny, I take JoJo. When we loop back to our house, he and Jenny head inside while JoJo and I keep going. It's a good system that works well for us.

Except when Tom is gone.

Like now. (He is up north, closing down the cabin for the season.)

Then, I take both dogs on our half-mile loop . . . before continuing on with JoJo (after settling Jenny down for a nap).

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I'm happy I live in a neighborhood where it's easy for me to get out and walk. Plenty of sidewalks. Not much traffic. Room for appropriate social distancing. 

And . . . right now is an especially lovely time to be out, enjoying the fall.

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How about you? Where do you like to walk?

 


The Ebb Part of It

On the last Tuesday of the month, many of us in Bloglandia share updates about our "words" for the year. (Honoré hosts, check it out.) It's a really helpful way to reflect back on the month-nearly-ended . . . to see how our "words" have popped up in our worlds. It's especially fascinating to me to see how these words connect - all year - for so many of us. There is some mysterious power in having a word, that's for sure.

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"We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of time and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible in life, as in love, is in growth, in fluidity -- in freedom."
        --- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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When I started this year, I was very eager to . . . flow. To move forward -- swiftly, rapidly, with purpose -- even if I didn't exactly know what that meant, or where I'd end up. It was exciting -- and I was ready to dive in. I wasn't really thinking about barriers that might keep me from flowing. Much. I mean, I knew I'd meet up with them, sure (because life). But I was planning to, y'know . . .  figure out ways to flow around them; to keep moving despite any barriers. And although I did jot down the phrase "ebb and flow" in my journal when I was first exploring my word back in January, I didn't give it much thought. I was all about the flowing this year; not so much the ebbing.

But. Thanks to the pandemic, that ebbing thing? Much bigger than anticipated!

And, oh how I've been fighting the ebb!
(Because, really. Who wants to ebb, huh? I just want to flow. To go! To move forward. To make change and get on with things and grab what's ahead.) 

The pandemic has (unfortunately) gone on for long enough now that I'm getting to a place where I can see some personal growth happening. I'm realizing that I actually need the ebb now and again. That pulling back once in a while . . . is a good thing. Time for sitting in the quiet, dark spaces. Waiting. 

I think I resisted so much for so long because, to me, ebbing meant being stuck. (Because I sure felt stuck!) But now, I'm thinking that ebbing . . . is part of flowing.

Yin and yang.
Push and pull.
Lost and found.
Give and take.
Sweet and sour.
Light and dark.

Ebb and flow.

It's been an ebb-time, for sure (much like I experienced during my cancer cycle years ago). Lots of time in the weeds. Plenty of time to reflect and think about what it means. I'm finding resilience, strength, and reserves I'd forgotten I had. Things I never could have imagined back in January.

I still want to flow.
But I'm seeing the benefits from the ebbing, too.

Now, I'm finding that Anne Morrow Lindbergh's words (above) ring true: "the only continuity possible in life . . . is in growth and fluidity. . . "

Flow.
With some ebbing thrown in for good measure!

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How about you? What did you learn from your word this month?

 


Now, More Than Ever

. . . it's time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

This week . . . we're down to the final week before the election. Tensions are high. Overwhelm is everywhere. Weariness is dragging us down. I don't know how you're faring, but I . . . kinda can't stand it. So this weekend, I thought a lot about things I can to do to get through this week with (what remains of) my mental and emotional health intact. It's not so much about starting our engines as keeping them humming this week!

So. Let's get to it.

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"If it's out of your hands, it deserves freedom from your mind, too."
            --- Ivan Nuru

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Oh, Ivan. What a great quote! Wise words, for sure. But . . . so much easier to say than to do.

The thing is, though . . . most of us have already made up our mind regarding who to vote for in this election. Shoot . . . a lot of us have already voted!

So we've done what we can.
It's out of our hands.
Now . . . we need to free our minds.

Keeping up with the news this week? Not gonna help you! Last March, Lori Gottlieb of the Atlantic said, "Bingeing on up-to-the-minute news is is like stress-eating -- it's bloating our minds with unhealthy foods that will make us sick." So now is the time to . . . walk away from the news. Stop the doomscrolling. The latest Trump outrage or poll result or newest endorsement will not make you feel any better -- and it won't give you that certainty we're all craving right now.

What to do instead?

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Get outside!

According to a Cornell study earlier this year (pre-pandemic even), just 10 minutes in a natural setting can help people feel happier and decrease the effects of both physical and mental stress.

10 minutes!

So. Take a lot of outside breaks this week. (Maybe every time you feel the urge to check the latest headlines?) Go for a walk around the block. Plant some bulbs in your garden. Look around for the prettiest leaf you can find. Sit on your patio and watch the birds. Anything. Just get yourself outside -- every day!

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Meditate!

Whatever that means to you. It doesn't mean you need to sit down on a cushion with your legs crossed. (Although that's a fine way to meditate!) Maybe your version of meditation is . . . knitting. Maybe it's walking. Maybe it's praying. Maybe it's mixing cookies. Maybe it's winding yarn. Meditation . . . is really any way for you to be mindful of whatever it is you're doing -- which calms your mind, slows your breathing and heart rate, and helps you relax and de-stress.

And if you're looking for some music to accompany your meditation practice, I have one to suggest to you:

(Sorry - this is just a screenshot and won't actually play if you try to click the "start" arrow. Here's the link.)

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The Wong Janice creates beautiful cello music for meditation and relaxation. Although it may sound a little new-age-kooky, her music is created and designed to relax you! This track, for example, is based on 60 BPM (beats per minute), which is the optimal tempo to get your heart to relax. The music is beautiful, and can serve as a restful accompaniment to any kind of meditation. Give it a try when the stress and fear start creeping in!

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Move!

I won't harp on about the value of fitness in combatting stress and worry (I do enough of that around here as it is), but . . . moving and getting the blood flowing is a Really Good Thing when you're trying to stay calm and carry on. Take a walk. Do some jumping jacks. Turn on an exercise video. Dance around your kitchen. Just move!

And if you're looking for a gentle yoga stretch, here's a good one to try:

It's Yoga With Adriene's latest Halloween release . . . Yoga for When You Feel Dead Inside. It's designed to get you up and moving when you really feel hollow and empty and, well, dead inside. Like . . . now.

I tried it yesterday. It's gentle - so even if you've never really tried yoga before, it's a good place to start. (And if you've never watched a Yoga With Adriene video before, don't be alarmed by the opening minute. It's her annual Halloween special practice - and she's doing a zombie parody of her usual opening. She doesn't continue the practice in zombie mode.)

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Watch a movie!

Kill some time and de-stress with a lighthearted movie (or two). Nothing heavy or overly dramatic this week! Here's a list of 31 Feel-Good Movies That Will Definitely Make You Smile (from Oprah Magazine).

Do you have any movies to add to Oprah's list? 

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Listen to some music!

The Atlantic has put together a Spotify playlist especially for this week! Twelve songs to "express impatience, agitation, and hope." Give it a listen -- it's a fun list.

What songs would you add?

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning. Let me know if you have any other strategies for staying calm in this stressful final week before the election.

Here's to a good week for all of us!
Hang in there.

 


A Refreshing Reset: Who Doesn't Need That?

All week long I look for . . . 

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And on Fridays, I report back.

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On my quest to find hope, sometimes I find that hope . . . finds me.

A couple of weeks ago, an article in The New Yorker caught my eye. (This one.) I mean, the headline was just right up my alley, including intriguing phrases like "provocative botanical sculptures" and "flower punk." How could I resist? I skimmed quickly. . . but didn't fully read the article. It was about a documentary. And there was a 30 minute film involved. And who has time for that kind of thing in the middle of the day? (. . . she said as she scrolled through Instagram and then picked up Animal Crossings. . . )

So I bookmarked the article and moved on, planning to come back to it at some point.
But I didn't.
I forgot all about it . . . 

until last Sunday morning, when it showed up again in a "digest" post from The New Yorker. 

This time, I did read the article. And then I sat down and watched the 30-minute documentary. And then I watched it again.

Because, my friends, this documentary?  It's . . . HOPE.
And it found me!

The documentary, called Flower Punk, was created by filmmaker Alison Klayman. And as The New Yorker article claims, it is "delightful, and unexpectedly moving." Alison Klayman actually shot this film as a break from a full-length documentary she was working on about Steve Bannon and politics and breaking news. She said her work on Flower Punk provided "a refreshing reset" for her, and enabled her to be "surrounded by and contemplating beauty" after all that darkness (that is Steve Bannon).

If creating this film provided a "refreshing reset" for Alison Klayman in that situation, imagine what watching it might do for you!

I found so much hope and beauty in this short film. For me, it is the perfect intersection of art, the magic of flowers, passion, and growth. And isn't that hope, in a nutshell?

I don't expect you to sit and watch this film right now (because 30 minutes), but I do encourage you to watch it at some point in the next few days. Maybe the next time you feel like picking up your phone to check the news or a social media feed (or that damn Animal Crossings game), watch this instead.

Let hope find you.
Give yourself a refreshing reset!

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My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy. (And - definitely - time to watch this incredible film.)

 


A Pandemic Silver Lining Story

Today's post is in the Doing Things Differently Because Pandemic (And Finding That's a Good Thing) camp.

As I've mentioned over the years here, I regularly take art classes at our local KIA art school. I actually started taking photography classes right after I finished my chemo treatments (12 years ago now!!!) as a way to "move forward" after cancer treatment. But then, I switched over to drawing . . . and then colored pencil drawing . . . and, finally, about 5 years ago, to watercolor.

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Watercolor . . . was what I really wanted all along. 

But watercolor is hard. And intimidating. It's one of the least forgiving of the painting "media" to work with. Because once you've got that paint on the page, there is no erasing, no turning back! (Although there are tricks. . . ) And that water. Oh, so much water sometimes. . . 

Anyway. Watercolor was especially challenging for me. I've taken lots of art classes in the past, but never watercolor. There is so much to learn, and it takes a lot of practice to get things looking even kinda-sorta like you imagine they might, or want them to. It is hard not to judge yourself harshly - with any art form, but I think especially with watercolor - because watercolor looks so easy, so simple, so . . . flowing and gentle and natural.

HA!
(It's not.)

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I have learned many, many lessons as a beginner watercolorist. My most important lessons, though, have had nothing to do with materials or technique or (the ever-elusive) "water management." No. My most important lessons have been all about myself.  Just allowing myself to be . . . Not Good; that it's okay to BE a beginner; to manage my expectations and learn from experience. 

These are hard lessons. (Or, at least, they are for me.)  My watercolor classes are a mix of students -- some who are just starting out (me) thrown right in with experienced students who didn't really need a "class" as much as they needed the weekly discipline and support of a "painting group." Oh, man. The intimidation at first was overwhelming! But, ultimately I found this kind of class structure to be a powerful learning environment. The experienced students were welcoming and encouraging and supportive. They helped me improve -- and, more importantly, they gradually became MY support group, too!

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Our pre-pandemic, 3-hour, in-person class sessions always kicked off with what our instructor called "show-and-tell" . . . when each of us shared what we'd been working on - at any stage in the process - for critique. (This is where the "support" part of all this really came in to play -- because the critique was always matched up with what the student needed. Newer, beginning students got encouraging words and helpful feedback, while more experienced students got the serious feedback they needed.) Then, our instructor would move on to the "demo" part of class. She'd select some piece for us to paint together -- always different styles, always different source material. She'd demo. She'd teach. We could either paint along with her . . . or just watch.

Me?
I always, always . . . just watched.
I almost never painted in class!

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I would go home after class, and sometimes try the demo on my own. But often, I didn't. (I did paint other things. I was big on the practicing; just not with the demos.) I had plenty of excuses for not doing the demos, but - if I'm honest with myself -  I was afraid to fail. I didn't want to paint in front of other people and have them see my attempt go right off the rails right off the bat. (Even though they wouldn't have cared and most of them went off the rails right off the bat, too.) I practiced my painting at home, privately . . . in my own little "studio" . . . and never really got the very freeing benefit of just . . . letting loose and trying new things on the fly!

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Enter the pandemic.

Last May, my watercolor instructor moved her classes to a Zoom-based format (which was super awkward at first, but it really works now). It's been so wonderful to be with my watercolor group again! And we follow the same format as always . . . first the "show-and-tell"/critique, followed by the "demo." The big difference?

I paint along with the demos now!

Part of it is that I do the Zoom class right in my "studio," where all my painting stuff is already set up and it's very convenient to just . . . paint. But I know that the bigger part is that . . . I'm not worried about having a "bad start" in front of people. Because, of course, no one can see what you're doing on Zoom unless you show them!

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Over the past several months, I can tell that my painting is improving. I'm gaining more confidence about just . . . diving in and beginning. I'm (kinda-sorta) developing my own style. It's liberating to feel like I don't have to try to make my piece look just like the instructor's demo lesson. And . . .  I don't hesitate anymore to hold up my in-progress demo when our instructor asks at the end of class if anyone would like to show what they've been working on.

And this is big.

Maybe . . . by the time we all get to meet together for class in person again . . . I'll paint right there in real time!
And that is a Pandemic Silver Lining!

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(The photos in this post are from my class sketch book, each showing a "demo" I painted during my Zoom classes.) (Including this one. In progress. From yesterday.)

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Did I Mention

. . . that the "bunny girls" have a brother?

Yeah.
They do.
A big brother.
And what do you knit for a sweet little boy who loves books and wrestling and Star Wars? The answer is Not A Bunny, for sure. But what???

Why . . . how about a dragon?

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I have a very clear memory of the last time I actually met a friend for coffee just before All Bets Were Off and coffee-dates became just another thing of the Before Times.  There we were, comfortably sipping and chatting and knitting and showing each other possibilities for future knits on our iPads . . . so casually, so lightly -- not at all imagining how much our lives would change the very next day (I digress) (but sometimes I'm just struck with how much things changed, y'know?).  Anyway, she had a brand-new grandson and had just knit a sweet bunny for him (this one). I shared my plan about knitting my own, different bunnies (these). I mentioned that I didn't know what to knit for the big brother, though, so we started brainstorming and looking things up on Ravelry with our iPads. 

And she found the little dragon pattern. 

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And it was Just The Thing!

(And here I am, 7 months later, finished with the very dragon we decided on that day.) (And all I can do is send her the photos.)

Anyway.
Isn't he just adorable?

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It's more "futsy knitting," for sure. But less futsy than the bunnies. Much quicker. (Plus . . . no wardrobe for a dragon.) (Thankfully.) Someday I may need to knit another dragon. For myself. Because he's awfully fun to have around, and I'll miss him when he's gone.

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But not today!

(Click here for Ravelry details for my Little Dragon.)

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How about you? What are you making this week?
And be sure to visit Kat to find more Unraveled posts today.


Allow Me To Introduce

. . . my son, the Green Hat Guy!

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My son, Brian, has launched a business - Green Hat Woodworking - and I thought you all might be interested. Especially with the holidays coming up and all. . . 

Brian crafts handmade household items that are functional and beautiful . . . things like coaster sets, meat mallets, and fly fishing boxes. Also . . . 

Gorgeous trays (so great for keeping your jewelry - or little knitting tools - organized and close at hand).

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Mancala boards (game night never looked so good).

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Cutting boards and cheese boards (they look too pretty to use, but trust me . . . they work hard in the kitchen).

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Plant stands (I still haven't managed to get my hands on one of these - they sell out quickly).

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He does custom furniture and makes custom inlaid signs for businesses, too. He's been on the art fair/market circuit a bit this fall, and has recently set up an Etsy shop in addition to his website. It's always tough to get started in something like this -- but Brian is talented and his products are popular. He's off to a good start -- but always looking for new customers.

Check out his website
Follow @green.hat.guy on Instagram.
Visit his new Etsy shop.
See what catches your eye!
And get a head start on your holiday shopping.

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AND . . . (drum roll) . . . BONUS!
Brian has given me a beautiful walnut cheese board to give away to one lucky Stepping Away From the Edge commenter!

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(Size = 4 1/2" x 12")

Wouldn't this look great for your Friday night snacks???

All you need to do . . . is check out Brian's website or Etsy shop, and let me know in the comments what your favorite Green Hat product is. I'll choose a random winner next Monday!

 

 

 

 


Good Morning!

It's Monday. 
Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"Sometimes carrying on, just carrying on, is the superhuman achievement."
            ---- Albert Camus

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I know I've shared my love for Ann Wood Handmade here on Mondays past, but . . . I've got a new Ann Wood pattern to share with you.

If you are looking for something charming and whimsical - and quick-and-easy to make, besides - check out Ann's latest FREE pattern: Chickens! So much fun. (I think making a few of these chickens would turn any frown upside down.) (And who doesn't need that these days?)

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If you think it's fun to peek over the shoulder of an artist at work, have I got an Instagram account for YOU!

@alicelovesdrawing creates beautiful flower illustrations using a variety of techniques with mixed media (pen and ink, pencils, watercolor, gel pens). It is fascinating to watch her creations come to life! If you ever look at finished illustrations and think, "How did they DO that?" Well . . . Alice will show you!

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Are you a fan of the movie/miniseries versions of Pride and Prejudice? Do you have a favorite Mr. Darcy? If you do (and even if you don't), you might enjoy checking out this fun article ranking "every Mr. Darcy" (including an edible version!) (as in cake).

C'mon . . . who's your favorite???

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Doesn't it feel like it's been a really, really long time since you've heard a choir sing? (It has been.) (So no wonder.) I think that's why this virtual choral performance brought tears to my eyes. Listen. It's a treat!

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us!
Hang in there.