3-fer Thursdays

Traffic is Light

I'm trying not to whine these days. I'm trying really, really hard to look for joy. To maintain my optimism. To be cheer-filled and hopeful.

But. Ugh. It's so hard some days.

(Especially when you get an attack of diverticulitis in the middle of a global pandemic and have to take a 10-day course of TWO antibiotics and can't have even a sip of alcohol for the duration.) (Like . . . not a drop.)

So today?  I'm just gonna whine.  

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Here are three things I miss the most while self-isolating:

1 - My car.  This one surprises me.  But last weekend, I got into my car for the first time in almost two weeks to deliver some groceries to my Dad (I can't visit, but I can leave a grocery delivery).  I got in my car, checked to make sure I had my disinfecting wipes handy, buckled myself in, pressed the START button -- and cried.  I guess it's not my car that I miss so much, but the freedom it represents.  And how casually I used to just . . . hop in.  And take off for . . . anywhere.  I really, really miss that!

2 - The gym.  This one does not surprise me.  I'm working out every day here at home.  We have a little gym set up in our basement, and I go on long walks with JoJo every day, and thank-you-Adrienne for your yoga videos . . . but it's just not the same.  I miss the equipment and the energy and the discipline that comes with my gym. My phone still reminds me of my gym classes - "traffic is light" (no kidding) - which makes it worse.  I suppose I should just remove all those reminders. But I'm not quite ready to let go. (Sigh.)

3 - My art classes.  This one doesn't surprise me, either.  I don't NEED to have a class to be able to "art" -- and I have space all set up here at home to draw and paint and dabble to my heart's content.  But I miss the camaraderie of my classmate and friends.  And the structure of going to class and doing the "homework."  And I really miss the inspiration of my teacher's tutorials and assignments -- and the work everyone else is doing.  And you know what else?  I haven't painted a thing since my last art class.

(I'd include my local library, too . . . except I haven't missed it yet.  I'm still working through the stack of books I picked up the day before it closed. This might be the only time I've been happy about having all my "holds" become available at the same time.)

How about YOU?  What are you missing most right about now?

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Note: I almost didn't share this post today.  I thought long and hard about just trashing it . . . because I know the things on my list - and probably the things on many of your lists, too - are minor inconveniences in the life of a highly privileged person lucky enough to be self-isolating at home during the pandemic. I know there are people all over the world missing so very much more than trite things like their car, their gym, and their art classes right now.

But in the end, I decided to hit "publish" anyway.  I see this blog as another way for me to journal -- to capture and remember what the days are like for me.  And today?  This is where I am. 

In upcoming days, I'm planning to talk a lot more about comparative suffering (something I really learned about while going through cancer treatment), and also suggest a few ways we might be able to help others who are suffering through this pandemic without resources.

So.
Let's just take a breath, support each other (wherever we are) . . .  and collectively whine together!  


Out of the Fog

I don't know about you, but I have been living in (what I've taken to calling) my "pandemic trance."  

Just kind of . . . almost floating . . . through my days.  
Feeling disconnected.  
Going through the motions.  
Not much focus.  
(Concentration?  What concentration?)  
Nothing that I thought would interest me right now interests me right now.

(I'm sure this is grief.)  
(I'll write about that another day.)  

Time seems to have folded, somehow.  I always used to feel that the saying "the days are long but the years are short" resonated perfectly with my perception of time.  Now, that seems completely upside down!  My days fly by, but the weeks just creep along!

Yesterday, Tom reminded me that we've only been at this social distancing/self-isolation thing . . . for two weeks!  It feels like so much longer than two weeks.  And yet, my days - filled with nothing much, really - are zooming past.  Flying by, really.  So. Weird.  So very weird.

Anyway.

I'm ready to come out of my "pandemic trance." 

I'm sick of living this way.  (I'm talking about what's going on in my head; not the social distancing thing.  I'm In It To Win It when it comes to the social distancing.)  I need to take charge of my life again.  I need to fight my way out of the fog.

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So yesterday I started looking at "tools" that might help me plan my days and structure my time in more productive ways.

First, I reminded myself of Elise Joy's 3-simple-things method.  It's not complicated - basically coming up with 3 simple things you want to do each day.  (And I mean SIMPLE things - unload the dishwasher, put away the laundry, make dinner.  That kind of simple.)  I used to do my own version of this when Erin was a newborn.  And again when I was in chemo.  It works -- because it helps you create a "normal" structure in days that no longer seem "normal" or structured.  It helps you get the little things done . . . which may lead to getting the bigger things done.

Next, I looked for some bigger-and-bolder tools for de-fogging my brain and (maybe) becoming a productive human again.  

I found this:  The Sequester Checklist from Black Cardigan Edit.  It's a daily planner page specifically designed to help users find forward movement in these challenging times.  It's definitely more . . . laid out and prescriptive than what I'd usually go in for, but I think it might really be a helpful tool for me right now.

And I also found this:  A "daily page" format from artist Nicole J. Georges.  (If you follow the link, it will take you to the artist's Patreon page.  You'll need to scroll down to the heading "Recent Posts by Nicole J. Georges" and click on the drawing, then click on the side arrow for page 2.  Kinda complicated, but worth it.)  If you don't want to follow the link, her illustrated "daily page" has the following sections:

  • 5 things I'm grateful for
  • What is out of my control today
  • What is in my control today
  • What will I do for my body today
  • How will I connect with other humans
  • Can I help someone or be of service today? How?
  • What 3 songs will you listen to today?
  • Draw a quiet time.
  • Free square (basically, anything else you'd like to say)

I like the planning/journaling combo in Nicole's "daily page."  It's a little more ... free-flowing, and I think it could work for me.

So.

There are 3 things (see what I did there?) that I think might help me . . . find a way out of my fog.  Maybe . . . they'll help you, too?

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Be sure to hop over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts today.  AND . . . make sure to visit Bonny, too -- because she is collecting happiness!

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And from the Look for JOY desk today . . . 

Be sure to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium!  The actual aquarium is closed, of course, but you can treat yourself to their Live Cams.  Jellyfish!  Rolling ocean waves!  OTTERS!  

 


Move It!

Back in "olden times" (you know . . . last Thursday), I was a gym-rat.  Really.  Like . . . pretty much every day to the gym.  I did kickboxing classes and spin classes and yoga and strength training.  I worked every week with my trainer, Jeremy.  I worked hard.  I sweat a lot.  

And, hoo-boy, do I miss it!

But, like all of us, I'm adjusting to a different life these days.  I have a little home-gym with plenty of equipment.  I have some online workouts I can do, and Jeremy is putting together some workouts for me based on the equipment that I DO have.  It'll be okay.  It's not the same, of course.  And I don't really feel like (or even like) working out at home.  

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But it's important.  Because we need to keep moving!  Especially now.

Here are three things to keep in mind . . . about Staying Fit in the Time of Coronavirus:

1 - Move every day.  Even just a little bit.  It helps you get in better physical shape, of course, but it also helps improve your state of mind, sharpens your focus, AND . . . it helps you STAY healthy.  Yep.  Exercise helps your immune system work better!  (Because who couldn't use an immune system boost right about now, right???)

2 - Get outside.  When I was a little girl, and my sister and I got to be too much for our mom inside, she would send us out - telling us, "Go outside and knock the stink off you!"  She didn't really think we were smelly, of course.  She just knew a change in scenery would be good for ALL of us.  It's (for the most part) decent weather out there now -- so get outside!  Get some fresh air!  Knock the stink off you!

3 - Try something new.  A lot of us are stuck at home now; can't get to a gym even if we wanted to.  A lot of fitness-based places are turning to the internet to offer new and free ways of exercising.  My own gym is rolling out online workouts for members, for example.  Maybe yours is, too?  And Peloton is offering a 90-day FREE offer for it's workout app!  No worries if you don't have a Peloton bike or treadmill (I don't have either) -- Peloton includes excellent strength training, meditation, and yoga classes, too!  (I signed up this morning.)  And Yoga Girl (Rachel Brathen) is offering a 30-day FREE yoga challenge/community connection program to help get folks through these challenging days.  This is a great time to try something different and shake up (or even start) your fitness program.

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Get moving!
(Because you can only binge-watch Netflix shows for so long.)

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And . . . from today's Find the Joy department . . . here are links to some museums currently offering virtual tours:

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

The Guggenheim in NYCity

MoMa in NYCity

The National Gallery in London

(These are just a few of the amazing links available through Google Arts & Culture.  Check it out!)

 

 

 


Some Surprises

This morning I woke up to a surprising bit of snow.  (Mostly surprising because the weather forecast was for a dire amount of snow, but it turned out to be only a tiny bit.)  (We've had a dearth of snow this year.  I think the weather forecasters are bored. And maybe a little hopeful.)

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So I thought I would stay with that theme of surprise, and share other surprises (three of 'em, in fact) with you today.  Here are three things I'm going to do (or that I'm already doing) this year that might surprise you:

  1. I've started working with a personal trainer at the gym once a week.  (This is surprising because I've always said I'd never pay for a trainer on top of what I already pay in gym fees.  Surprise!  I love it!)  (Stay tuned.  I'll tell you more in a future post.)
  2. I'm going to Scotland this summer with a friend -- on a bike tour.  A bike tour where we'll be riding 50-60 miles each day through the Scottish countryside.  For a whole week. (This is surprising because, well, ohmygod what am I thinking.)
  3. We're finally (finally) going to buy a new mattress.  (This is maybe not so surprising, really.  Because it's been on my to-do list for at least 10 years.  So I guess what's surprising about this one is that we still haven't done it in the first place.)

What's something surprising YOU'RE doing this year?

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Be sure to visit Carole today for more Three on Thursday posts.


A Look Back . . . At the Things I Knit in 2019

My one little word for 2019 was intention . . . and I decided early on in the process to bring intention to my knitting.  (You can read more about that here, if you're interested in the nitty-gritty.) Basically, I decided to: 

  • Only knit what I would actually wear or use.  
  • Stick with using yarn I already had.  
  • In colors I love.  
  • And styles that suit me.  
  • No KALs.  No mysteries. 

I wanted to avoid jumping on any knitting-bandwagons that weren't right for me . . . or committing to doing something in a given time limit . . . or chasing a shiny object that wouldn't work for me or my closet.  

I still wanted to have some fun with my knitting, though, should something unexpected and perfect show up.  I didn't want to set myself up to feel like I'd failed if some new yarn made its way into my stash.  I wanted to be intentional about my knitting -- but I also wanted to be flexible enough to be inspired!

Now, as I look back on my knitting in 2019, I declare it a success!  When I look back over my Ravelry projects for 2019, I see . . . no clunkers!  I see 6 sweaters that I love and wear (none of them ended up in the Goodwill pile, which is a big win for me).  I see a stack of dishcloths we use all the time.  I see gifts for babies and kids and curlers and dads.  And I see only 2 shawls (because, really, I have plenty of shawls and was trying to Look Away From the Shawls in 2019) -- but I use them both.  Not a dud in the bunch!  I call that a great knitting year!

(And, yeah.  I know.  There is no gray cardigan in there.  But I don't see that as a failure.  I see it as a casualty of my being "flexible enough to be inspired.")

What were my favorite knits of 2019?

My hands-down, #1 favorite project of the year was my Night Shift shawl.

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I used gorgeous yarn from Briar Rose -- and I had so much fun shifting those beautiful colors.  (I didn't use color-changing yarn, so all those shifts you see?  They're my doing!  My favorite projects are always the ones where I get to play with color.)  If you've been thinking about trying one of Andrea Mowry's "shifty" projects, I highly recommend you do it.  Fun.  (Like . . . really fun!)  Great instructions.  And a pretty fabulous result.

Next up, my Felix Pullover.

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There is a good reason so many people have knit this great sweater (or the companion Felix Cardigan).  It's quick to knit (once you get the eyelet increases straight), fits great, and works with everything in your closet.  I knit mine from (stashed) Brooklyn Tweed Shelter -- which makes it light AND warm.

And then, my Alanis sweater.

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This layering piece is so perfectly "my style" that I wear it constantly.  It's a quick knit from a well-written pattern by Elizabeth Smith.  I knit mine in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (again, from stash).  And . . . it has a sweet little pocket, too.

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What to look for from me (knitting-wise) in 2020?

Well.  First up, you'll finally see that gray cardigan.  But other than that?  Who knows!  My knitting plan for 2020 . . . is to have no knitting plan. There are a few things I'm thinking about knitting this year (each of those highlighted words is a separate link, by the way), but I don't do well when I box myself into any kind of "queue" or "make nine" kind of structure.  For me, knitting is about inspiration coupled with the whims of my moods.  I'll keep my "intention" goals (top of this post) at the forefront of my project decisions (because that worked well for me), but beyond that, I commit to nothing.   

I just know . . . there will be knitting in 2020.  And that's enough for me right now.

How about YOU?  Do you like to organize your knitting plans in a structured way . . . or do your prefer to just let inspiration guide you?  What would you love to knit in 2020?

 

 

 


Winter Interlude

I spent yesterday in Chicago with friends.  It was such a lovely winter interlude.  The sun was even shining!  (Which is a rare treat anywhere near the Great Lakes in winter.)

What did we do?

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1 -- We took in the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute.  It was just fascinating!  He was so, So, SO far ahead of his time (and so much more than soup cans and Marilyn Monroe).

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2 -- We ate lunch at Terzo Piano.  Fabulous food, a most excellent view, and a great atmosphere.

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3 -- We visited the Christkindlemarket set up in the Daley Center downtown.  Lots of fun!  We didn't buy much, but we did enjoy drinking hot, mulled wine (in souvenir boot cups!) while strolling around the market.  Very festive!

A great day -- and a wonderful way to celebrate the season with friends.

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Be sure to stop in at Carole's today to read other Three on Thursday posts.  (And . . . share you favorite aphorism!)

 


Thursdays are for Gratitude

(I'm grateful every day . . . but in November, I blog about it, too.)

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Today, as I was walking with JoJo through the leaf-piles in my neighborhood . . . watching a few snowflakes dance in the air . . . and trying not to think about my cold feet . . . 

I thought about what a wonderful day it is.  And how much I have to be grateful for!

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  • A safe and beautiful neighborhood to walk in.
  • An energetic pup to coax me into the leaves (where the crunching is best) (and apparently the smells, too).
  • Inside warmth and a hot cup of tea when I return home.

What are you grateful for today?


It's All In the Strategy

For most of my adult, Halloween-candy-giving life, I have struggled with . . . not eating the treats before the trick-or-treaters arrived.  Over the years, I tried all kinds of things to prevent myself from snacking on Snickers bars, but none of these strategies were terribly effective.  For example, I tried storing the candy in the freezer . . . only to discover that frozen Snickers bars are nearly as tasty as room-termperature Snickers bars.  I tried buying my candy at the last moment . . . only to discover that the pent-up desire for a snack-size Snickers bars is even stronger when I wait to the last moment.

Anyway.

After years and years of struggling, I have hit upon a Candy Strategy that Works!  
(A 3-part strategy, of course.)

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1 -- Buy ONLY as much candy as you will need to give out.  Don't buy extras-just-in-case.  And if you do run out?  Big win!  Turn out your lights and call it quits.

2 -- Have a plan for "donating" your leftover candy (your office candy jar?  an upcoming curling tournament?  your art class? so many possibilities. . . ).  Think about who might actually WANT it (or even just tolerate having it) and bag it up for them as soon as your trick-or-treaters call it a night - and then go put it in your car so you can deliver it the next day.  The key here is to get it out of your house!

The best strategy of all, though?

3 -- Step away from the Snickers bars!  Only buy candy you don't like and won't eat!  As you can see in the photo of my treat bowl - all ready for this evening - there is no chocolate.  None.  Only (sugar-bomb) Skittles, Nerds (what even ARE those?), (mouth-destroying) Sweet Tarts and Sour Patch Kids, (tasteless) Twizzlers, and the like.  NOT my candy!  Biggest WIN ever!

How about you?  What's your best strategy for avoiding Halloween candy?  (Or . . . is it your guilty pleasure???)

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Happy Halloween!  I hope your day is full of treats!

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(Tom and I dressed as "robbers" for a Halloween party last weekend.)


Fall Gardening

It's really easy to love a garden in the spring and summer - when everything is bursting with bloom.  Most folks don't find fall gardens quite so charming, though.  

But I do!  I love my garden all the time . . . and maybe especially in the fall.

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Sure.  

Everything is way past its prime in my fall garden.  Most die-hard gardeners I know rush to cut back dying perennials in the fall, ready to be done with garden-tending for another season.  And . . . well . . . I am, too.  But also . . . not.

Fall in my garden is really a wonderful time, and I relish these days in my garden.

Why?  (Besides knowing I need to get my fill of it before snow keeps me out of it?)  Well . . . let me count the ways:

1 - I love the muted colors and crispy textures of my fall garden.

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In fact, I find some of my favorite color combinations in my fall garden -- and in fall landscapes, generally.  I often go on to use these fall garden color inspirations when it comes to choosing colors for a knitting project . . . or putting together pieces in my closet to wear.

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2 - Late season seedheads are so interesting!

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The blooms are long gone, sure.  But I love seeing the puffs and tufts of the seed heads in the fall.  Besides . . . I get even more blooms later (albeit maybe not where I want them) when the seeds scatter in my garden beds.  But I've discovered that "volunteer plants" often bring an unplanned unity to my garden.  Plus . . . free plants!  (And I can always pull them if I'm not happy about where they land.)

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3 - The pressure is off!

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No time to weed?  Lose track of your deadheading?  Well . . . in the fall, no one cares.  No one expects your garden to look good in the fall.  Shoot -- it's just a delight to still find something blooming.  And finches love the seedheads.  And there's always springtime for cleaning up!  Besides . . . if you leave some stuff out there in the garden, it becomes "winter interest" and will light up the garden when it catches the snow as it falls.

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I really do love a garden in fall.  How about you???

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Be sure to head over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday fun.

 


C'mon Along

. . . as I drive around this morning!

First stop -- the gym.  It's an early morning workout with my trainer.

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Next stop -- the library.  Three books are on hold for me!

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And finally . . . the KIA.  My drawing class is about to begin.

1C0D293D-8B64-4E1C-877E-015C1CF763F5Where have you been today?

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Hop on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts.