Year in Review

Measuring A Year: The Highlight Reel

Here we are . . . sliding into home base on the very last day of 2020! As we prepare to bid adieu to this total dumpster fire of a year, I'm wrapping up my "annual review" with a look at my highlights of 2020.

Highlights, you say?

Yeah. Highlights.

Because in the midst of this absolutely shitty year, there ARE highlights!

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Before I get started on highlights, I want to offer this . . . I don't know what to call it, exactly . . . disclaimer, maybe? Acknowledgement? Anyway. I am aware - every minute of every day - how fortunate I am; how well-equipped I am to handle "staying home" during a pandemic. I have Tom, who is not only a calming presence but also damn good company. I live in a comfortable house in a safe neighborhood. I am surrounded by Plenty -- food, projects, tech tools, resources. I am healthy. I don't have children at home to worry about. Tom's business is safe from pandemic pressure, and he worked from home already, so we didn't even have that adjustment to make. Truly . . . an embarrassment of riches. I have much to be grateful for. And I know this. 

Still.
Burning-building-in-the-background.
(It's been a hard year for all of us.)

On to those highlights . . . 

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I made some Astonishing Personal Discoveries in 2020!

  • If I wanted to (and I don't), I actually could do that Project 333 thing Courtney Carver is always going on about! (Choosing only 33 items of clothing - including coats, shoes, jewelry, and accessories - to take you through a 3-month time period.) Personally, I still don't get the whole arbitrary-ness of Courtney's number 33 (I am a Questioner, after all), but I've always appreciated the concept. And now - thanks to 2020 - I know I really CAN live in 1 pair of leggings for a week. (Courtney is obviously not a knitter, though.)
  • I also can go out and about my life - even in my (albeit limited) public appearances - wearing no make-up and sporting terrible hair! I don't care. No one else cares. So liberating! (As much so as letting my hair revert to it's natural color, post chemo.) There is no need for vanity during a pandemic.
  • Days can go by without my needing to use or refer to my planner! I used to drag it with me everywhere - because I needed it and used it all the time. But now? I can just schedule (those rare) future "things" without even looking at my calendar . . . because there is so little ON it. So. Weird. (Even still, after all these months.)

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Total Game Changers that got me through 2020: 

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We had a Pandemic Dividend (an unexpected bonus) to celebrate . . . 

  • Late last February, we were convinced Jenny was . . . near the end. At almost 13, she had started having what we thought were seizures or a stroke. A vet visit, though, indicated she was actually experiencing Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome (yeah - it's a real thing and it's really called that). Basically, she had vertigo! It took a while for it to clear up -- but it did. So now, she's a deaf and partially blind almost 14-year-old dog . . . who's survived 2 knee surgeries, anal cancer, and Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome. As part of her vertigo treatment, our vet suggested short walks (she hadn't been able to go on walks for a while), so Tom started by just taking her down the street a little way each day. This was challenging -- because vertigo; she fell down sometimes and it was so sad. Anyway, Tom kept at it, gradually extending the distance. And now - at the end of 2020 - Jenny and Tom join JoJo and I for a one-mile walk around the neighborhood every afternoon! Although Jenny still keeps her head kind of turned to one side, the vertigo has cleared up. Jenny . . . is in better shape than she has been in years, and it's looking like she may make her 14th birthday in April!

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My most proud achievements of 2020:

  • Becoming the official bottle-capper for FNM Brewing (Tom's home brewing operation)
  • Perfecting my technique for risotto
  • Learning to pronounce "epidemiologist" (That word just never rolled off my tongue. . . )
  • Serving as a Michigan election inspector

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Lightning Round:

Best investment of 2020:

  • Peloton
  • home wifi network upgrade

Never thought I'd . . . 

  • wear a face mask in public
  • know so much about the US electoral processes in so many different states

Thought I'd miss more than I do:

  • the gym

Miss more than I would've thought:

  • the casual nature of the Before Times (the ease of making plans, going out for a drinks or meeting for coffee, just stopping to chat with someone you meet out and about)

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Best TV watching:

Best book:

Best things I made:

  • those (damn) bunnies (Did I ever tell you the little girls named them Margaret and Penelope?)
  • all those (damn) face masks

Garden delight:

Favorite Peloton instructor:

Best new podcast:

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Oh, 2020.

What a ride . . . 

You've been a year for the books, for sure. Lots of crap. Lots of sadness. Lots of heartache. 

But, if we're open, lots of lessons, too. Silver linings.

2020 gave me the time and the space to think and learn and reflect. Left to my own devices, I'd never have cut the cord to so many commitments I thought were important. I would never have dared to live without my planner. I wouldn't have considered working out at home. Or learning to make risotto. Shoot . . . I wouldn't have grown out my bangs!

But here I am, hanging in there and doing . . . okay. I'm healthy -- and I'm determined to stay that way. I'm strong and I'm resilient. I'm more than a little bit mad (working on that). I'm ready to move forward.

2021?
Bring it!

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Happy New Year, my friends.

Thanks for being here and hanging out with me this year! 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Measuring A Year: Sticking to the Plan (Kinda)

This week, I'm taking you with me as I "measure my year." I'm also sharing some of the selfies I've taken during the pandemic. I guess it's been a little side project I started without really meaning to . . . kind of to measure my mood. I'm not sure exactly why or when I started taking these pandemic self-portraits (because I'm normally not a selfie-taker at all), but I did. And now there's quite a collection, and they DO tell a story of my pandemic moods.(Also hair growth, as it turns out.)

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As I mentioned yesterday, I always begin my "annual review" by taking a look at the intentions I set for myself at the beginning of the year. I don't set resolutions or specific "goals" for myself. I set . . . intentions. They're very open-ended, generally. And they reflect the direction I want to head off in for the new year; they way I want to live my life.

One year (2018, I think), I tried Gretchen Rubin's "XX for 20XX" concept, and set myself up with 18 (I think) very specific things I wanted to do that year. I hated it. Hated. It. I know a lot of people just love that concept - and look forward to putting their lists together every year. It's not for me, though. I'm much better with annual, wide-open intentions. 

Anyway. Here are the intentions I set for myself back in January 2020:

  • be healthy and get strong
  • practice the things I love
  • pay attention to the moon
  • be kind
  • let love flow
  • focus on flexibility and stretching
  • keep my eyes open
  • be mindful of the world I live in
  • show up
  • make space

Even though they are very . . . non-specific . . . there is always some kind of meaning behind each intention; a reason I made it an intention in the first place! "Be healthy and get strong," for example, was all about my commitment to fitness and continuing my work with Jeremy, my personal trainer. "Be mindful of the world I live in" was related to my wanting to learn more about the environment and how I might change my own "footprint" on the earth. "Focus on flexibility and stretching" was, in part (although not exclusively), a reminder for me to try and find a new yoga studio. "Show up" was all about being more present for the people I love and care about, and to remind myself to speak out when I could about things that matter to me.

So these intentions were designed . . . for 2020 as I assumed it would unfold.

And then, of course . . . it didn't.

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I didn't look at my intentions for several months. I was too busy . . . adjusting to this new reality of pandemic life. But eventually, once I realized and accepted that it was a longer-term situation we had here, I did a quick review. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't really need to make any drastic changes; that most of my intentions were wide-open enough that I could just tweak them here and there, maybe add a few things, and still move forward. So late last summer, I made some revisions to my intentions . . . to reflect my new and unexpected pandemic lifestyle:

  • be healthy and get stay strong ("healthy" took on a whole new meaning for me, and Jeremy is long gone. . . )
  • remove the barriers that keep me from practicing the things I love (mostly . . . put down the phone, step away from news, and Get To It)
  • pay attention to the moon and find new rhythms for living your life
  • be kind from behind a mask
  • let love flow with loving-kindness meditations
  • focus on flexibility and stretching by saying "hello" to your new friend Adriene 
  • keep my eyes open by staying informed by reputable, knowledgeable sources
  • be mindful of the world I live in while still allowing myself time to grieve and heal
  • show up by supporting my family and friends 
  • make shift your space to make room for pandemic life at home (now that "home" is also gym, movie theater, restaurant, brew pub, art class, etc.)

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I also added a few new intentions:

  • be gentle with myself
  • look for the next right thing . . . and do that
  • connect with local friends as if they were far-away friends (because they kinda are far-away friends now)
  • find new ways to celebrate special days and events 
  • get out my pom-poms and be a cheerleader whenever possible

2020 threw me for a loop, that's for sure. 
Things look a lot different than I anticipated they would back in January.
But when it comes to living my life, I've stuck to my intentions.
(kinda)
I call that a Win!


Measuring A Year: Always In the Background

So, yesterday I explained that I've begun my "annual review" process. I do this every year -- looking back before looking ahead. I also explained that - for me - counting things (minutes, pages read, workouts completed, etc.) is not all that useful or relevant. I'm looking for deeper revelations here!  I'm looking to find (in the words of Albert Einstein in the quote I shared yesterday) . . . 

the things that count that can't be counted!

Why do I go through this process at all you may ask? Well. For me, reflecting on the year-just-ending helps me understand myself. It helps me grow and become the person I was meant to be. It let's me know if I'm doing what I set out to do/living how I wanted to be living back at the beginning of the year.

Usually.
USUALLY, this is what my looking-back process looks like, in a nutshell:

  • I review my intentions for the year.
  • I identify what worked (the highlights).
  • I identify what didn't work (the lowlights).
  • Then, I figure out where I want to head next.

I say usually . . . because 2020 has been anything but a "usually" kind of year! So I'm mixing things up a bit this year. I did begin with reviewing my intentions (more about that tomorrow.) But instead of thinking about the highlights next - like usual, I decided to tackle those lowlights right out of the gate. Because . . . those lowlights? They kind of serve as the backdrop for (nearly) the entire year, and I wanted to address the the elephant sitting in the room.

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(Since the pandemic began, I've been taking regular, random selfies. They are very real. I'll share some this week.)

Let me begin with a story . . . 

Way, way back in time when my kids were very young (Erin just 5 and Brian 2, so we must be talking . . . 1994 here), we took a long car trip to visit family back in Wyoming. (My kids' ages are set in time for me, because Brian had a tiny cast on his tiny arm.) (Bed jumping with Daddy.) (I wan't home.) Anyway. While we were visiting, my sister-in-law and I thought it might be nice to have a group photo taken for my in-laws of all the grandchildren together (there were 5 of them at the time -- all under 6). And I had the brilliant idea of inviting my sister to bring her daughter (also 6) to the photo shoot so we could have my kids doing double-duty for ANOTHER photo for my parents of their 3 grandchildren. As you might imagine, 6 excited children under the age of 6 barging into the Sears photo department went . . . about as well as you'd think. We had out-of-control excitement. We had sibling squabbles. We had crying. We had at least one (and I think two) meltdowns. We had poopy pants. We had whining. We had an exasperated photographer. And we had three moms who were trying their best - and failing miserably - all while laughing hysterically. In short, we had very little cooperation anywhere. I remember the conversation going like this . . . 

Photographer: Maybe we should try again another day?
My sister: Like hell.
Me: Just take the flipping photo.
My sister-in-law: Can we have a burning-building background, please???

The photos (which he finally did take) are priceless -- and would only have been enhanced by that burning-building background we asked for! (We had a kid crying, a pouter or two, someone poking someone else, and Brian waving his cast around wildly.)  (In the best shot.) (If I could find it, I'd share it.)

And the point of that???
Well.
Some years just have a burning-building in the background.
And 2020 was one of them!

As I looked back on my 2020, I see a lot of me flailing around . . . in front of a burning-building-background.

Most of the really horrible things that have been happening this year . . . and they are really horrible things . . . have had no direct impact on the life I've been living, day-to-day. I've been safe and healthy and isolated here in my privileged little bubble.

And yet, I felt broken.
All year.
Disappointed.
Disillusioned.

My "lowlights" for 2020 . . . look very different than in "usual" years. This year, it was just a constant, relentless, horrible background noise. All the time. Every day. It impacted everything else that happened this year. Colors were less sharp. The air was thicker. Burdens were heavier. Chores more tedious. I'm pretty sure gravity pulled me down with more force this year.

Burning building background.
Every day.

==

Today is the final day for Honoré to host our "one little word" monthly updates for 2020. Be sure to check out what everyone has to say. As for me? I'm not ready with a post yet. But I'll share sometime next month.


How To Measure a Year?

And . . . I'm back! 

I hope you all had a lovely time last week -- however you were celebrating. We had a low-key week here, and even got to spend a bit of time with Brian and Lauren on Christmas Eve - masked, outside, socially distanced and brief, of course, but wonderful all the same. 

No Starting-Your-Engines here this week. Just a lot of reflection and thinking about wrapping up the year . . . and moving forward into 2021. Because here we are . . . deep into the last few days of 2020. This is where - in a usual year - I go through my "looking back" process -- in preparation for the "looking ahead" to a new year.

But, really. Who wants to "look back" at 2020??? Most of us just want to get it over with and move on!

And yet. . . 

And yet. . . . 

I know I need to process this year and how it made me feel. I know it was a dumpster fire. But there are lessons to be gleaned and silver linings to remember and stories to tell. Much as I might like to just close the door on 2020 (locking the door and throwing away the key), I know that's not how I want to move forward.

Last week this song started popping into my head . . . 

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure? Measure a year?
 
In daylights,
In sunsets,
In midnights,
In cups of coffee,
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
How do you measure a year in a life?
 
And it got me thinking . . . 
How DO you measure a year?
And especially a year like . . . 2020?
 
I suppose . . . I could start with things I can measure; things I can count.
 
525,600 minutes.
365 366 days. (2020 was a leap year, after all.) (That changes the minutes, too, actually. But 527,040 doesn't quite have the same lyrical quality, so let's just forget about the whole leap year thing.)
12 full moons
2 solstices; 2 equinoxes
1 birthday
 
288 days"safe at home." (Since March 16.) (And counting.)
224 blog posts. (I counted.)
193 Peloton workouts. (Peloton tracks my every workout.)
235 yogas with Adriene. (Every damn day now that I started.)
187 Instagram posts. (I counted.)
27 nights spent up north. (Tom keeps track.) (He spent 46 nights up there.)
520 miles walked with JoJo. (A very close estimate.)
21,582 pages read. (Per Goodreads. But not entirely accurate.*)
16 projects knitted. (Per my Ravelry project page. But, of course, it's not accurate either.**)
 
I could keep counting . . . Trips to the library. Meals cooked. Loads of laundry. Phone calls with my sister. Sleepless nights. Doctors appointments with my dad. Texts sent. Bills paid. Minutes worrying about democracy. 
 
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So. Sure. I CAN measure my year. In a numbers kind of way.
That's kind of easy, actually. 
And a fine place to start. But it's not even close to my whole story.
And I know that's not really what I want here, as I look back over 2020 . . . to look ahead to 2021.
Like one of our great scientists says . . . 
 
"Not eveything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."
            --- Albert Einstein
 
It's way more complicated than . . . just counting.
 
So.
What DOES count, then?
How do I measure this year?
 
This is going to be my quest for these next few days.
Until 2021 arrives. 
 
==
* RE: Goodreads. I read a lot more than I record on Goodreads. (I don't include cookbooks, for example. Or poetry books. Or books of essays that I read slowly. Or art technique books. Or books I don't finish -- or the ones I'm almost finished reading right now! )
 
** RE: Ravelry. Although I'm pretty good at recording my projects, I'm not caught up at the moment. (So Ravelry doesn't even know yet about the 7 hats I finished in December . . . ) (Yeah. 7. I kinda got on a roll there.)
 

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.

==

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?

 

 

 


A Look Back . . . at the Words I Read in 2019

Goodreads sure makes it easy to review your reading for the year!

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So.

In 2019, I read 80 books. Just under 26,600 pages.  Slightly more than 2018.  Which is all meaningless information, actually.  But interesting all the same. Most of the books I read in 2019 came from my local library.  I read fewer audiobooks this year than usual (and I have no explanation for that) (although I'm afraid that it might be that I watched more TV).  A few of the books I read in 2019 were . . . pretty mediocre.  But most were quite decent and very worth reading.  (My average rating was 3.9.)  I wrote a review for every book I read.

After all those books and all those pages, here are the books that really stand out for me this year -- a list of my Most Memorable Reads of 2019 (not all these books were 5-star reads for me, but they were memorable all the same):

First, the book that changed my thinking more than any other book this year.  White Fragility is not an easy read -- but it is an important one.  It's good to shake up the way you look at the world sometimes, y'know?!  I think about this book every day.  Highly recommended.

White fragility

Then, there's the book that changed my digital habits in a life-shifting way: Digital Minimalism.  Sure, I still Google useless facts too often, and I scroll through Instagram a bit more often than I really want to, but generally . . . I'm much more aware of how and when I use technology, and I feel far less tethered to my phone.  

Digital minimalism

I started the year with Milkman . . . and I'm still in awe of it.  The story was powerful, and the storytelling structure was unique.  I loved the fresh voice and perspective of the novel's narrator.  While it's probably not a book for everyone, if you like something a bit different and you're in the mood for something to chew on, give this one a try.

Milkman

I always have a hard time choosing just one favorite book of the year, but if pressed . . . I'd probably tell you it was The Topeka School.  Again, probably not a book for everyone.  It's brilliant -- but challenging.  And so worth the effort. 

Topeka school

Then there's The Heart's Invisible Furies.  Epic, funny, poignant, and so full of heart it just . . . bursts!  (I talked Tom into reading this one after me, so I had a chance to listen to/talk through the best parts all over again as he read.)  If you like sprawling epics that will rip your heart out while making you laugh, this one is for you!

Heart's invisible furies

Oh, Lanny!  You stole my heart.  This quick, little read was such a magical treat!  

Lanny

I read Red at the Bone right at the end of the year - almost my last book of 2019.  There is so much packed into this short book -- great characters, compelling story, unique storytelling style. This is one you won't want to miss!  

Red at the bone

And then there's Just Mercy -- the first book we read together, which will always make it special to me!  Y'know, it's pretty . . . risky . . . to try something new.  Like a bloggy book group.  So it was heartening that so many of you responded positively to this new (and evolving) idea, and that you . . . read with us!  Our first book was an interesting look at the criminal justice system - and particularly at death row inmates - in the US.  Not an easy read, but an important one.

Just mercy

==

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

I don't have any solid reading goals or plans in mind, and certainly not related to the number of books I plan to read.  I don't think I need to read "more" and I don't think I need to read "harder," so I'll keep to my usual strategy:  paying attention to the major book prizes (the Women's Prize, the Man-Booker, and the National Book Award are my favorites), checking out the recommendations from the New York Times and the New Yorker and other readers I trust, and then . . . well . . . just be open to general inspiration.  

As far as very loose plans, well . . .  this year, I'd like to read something by Virginia Woolf.  (I never have.  I think it's time.)  It's probably time for me to re-read some Jane Austen. (I go on a Jane Austen binge every decade or so. . . ).  I'm interested in a few memoirs right now, and I have a short stack of books on art and creativity that I'd like to tackle this year. 

How about you?  Do you have any reading plans this year?

==

Read With Us

I invite you to Read With Us!  We're just starting in on Fever by Mary Beth Keane (available for Kindle - $1.99 now).  Be sure to read Carole's promotional/introductory post about the book today.  We'll be discussing Fever throughout the month of February, so you still have plenty of time to join us!

Fever

==

My other highly recommended (5 star) reads this year:

Olive, Again (Elizabeth Strout)
The World That We Knew (Alice Hoffman)
The Dutch House (Ann Patchett)
Grief is the Thing With Feathers (Max Porter)
Disappearing Earth (Julia Phillips)
The Murmur of Bees (Sofía Segovia)
The Nickel Boys (Colson Whitehead)
Women Talking (Miriam Toewes)
The Warmth of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson)
Inland (Téa Obreht)
Spring (Ali Smith)
The Great Believers (Rebecca Makkai)
Improvements (Jean Silber)

(For my reviews on Goodreads, or to follow along with what I'm reading, see my blog sidebar.)

 

 


2015: About the Knitting

In my continuing effort to wrap up 2015, let's talk about the knitting today.  

Here's a little screen shot of 2015's knitting, thanks to Ravelry.  Ten projects.  Seven shawls, two sweaters (one good, one bad), and a pair of mitts.  I'm pleased with all of these projects (well. . . except for that linen sweater).  

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The knitting has definitely slowed here - but that's okay.  While I may not be turning out as many projects as I have in years past, I still knit a few rows most every day.  My "production" has slowed for two main reasons:  (1) I'm knitting more challenging projects (lace shawls) -- and that just takes longer, and (2) I'm filling my time with other creative pursuits.  I made an Alabama Chanin t-shirt during 2015, and I started taking art classes.  And then, of course, I have the garden in the summer.  So the knitting is an ever-present pastime in my life, but not my only creative outlet.

There were some "fails," of course (because there always are).  There was this fine start - but not enough yarn.  And I signed up for the March Through Time Cowl, but never got "marching" (on the cowl, that is).  I also cast on for a pair of socks, but found the yarn too pool-y, which made me grumpy.  (So no socks this year.)

Other knitting highlights for 2015:

  • Rhinebeck.  That's been on my knit-bucket-list for . . . ever.  
  • KonMari-ing my stash.  Although I've never blogged it (not sure why, exactly), but I sliced-and-diced my stash last summer in a pretty drastic way.  And then I organized my "keepers" on Ravelry.  (No worries.  I still have plenty of yarn.)
  • By-passing the Christmas-knitting Crazy Train.  (And that was wonderful.)

I'm looking forward to a creative 2016 -- starting with a new "Knit Night" (for me; I'm joining a group already in progress) tonight, and a little project that's nearly ready for cast off.  (Stay tuned!)

 

 

 


2015: About the Reading

I think I covered my reading habit pretty well on the blog this year (all that Bingo-reading during the summer months), but I've decided to provide a final tally here anyway.

 

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According to Goodreads, I read 73 books in 2015 -- and 24,615 pages.  (I don't shy away from long books.  I also read Nicholas Nickleby, coming at something just over 600 pages, and several others in the 500-600 page range.)

I think I read more 5-star books this year than in any other, although I'm not going to go back and compare.  I was certainly happy with most of the books I read this year.  (I consider any books with 3 stars and up "worth reading.")  I was only really disappointed in a couple of selections (2 stars), and there was one real clunker that I couldn't even finish (1 star . . . just because I read half of it).

In the end, here are my top five reads during 2015 (I'm telling you . . . it was hard to narrow it down to just five):

How to Be Both (Ali Smith)

Kartography (Kamila Shamsie)

A Man Called Ove (Fredrik Backman)

Mink River (Brian Doyle)

Being Mortal (Atul Gawande)

I'm looking forward to more reading in 2016.  I've signed up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge (goal = 60 books this year), and I'll plan to play along at Book Bingo this summer if Mary "hosts" again (no pressure, Mary!).  You can always check what I'm reading on my sidebar here on the blog, or you can find me on Goodreads.

Happy reading! 


A Good Year

This week's Ten on Tuesday topic lends itself to further year-in-review reflection.  Carole asks us about Ten Things That Make Us Feel Proud in 2015.

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  1. Effectively purging so much of my stuff . . . KonMari-style.  It really does feel good to let go of so much stuff, and I am committed to living with less.
  2. Taking a drawing class . . . and reviving my long-ignored artistic side.  When I started out with my class (taken only so I'd have the prerequisite for other kinds of art classes), I had no idea how much fun I'd have!  
  3. Culling my yarn stash and organizing the remains on Ravelry.  I never blogged about this, but it was a monumental undertaking all the same.  (No worries.  I still have plenty of yarn!)
  4. Beginning a daily meditation practice.  I've discovered that meditation really IS all it's cracked up to be!
  5. Getting through some pretty serious sports injuries -- and changing up my whole fitness regimen. I used to run.  Now I swim.  I used to dance.  Now I row.  I fought it with a vengeance -- but the change has been really good for me.
  6. Completing an Alabama Chanin t-shirt project.  Which just whet my appetite for more!
  7. Finally getting to Rhinebeck.  (Thanks for making it possible, Patty.)
  8. Brian and Lauren's wedding.  I didn't have anything to do with this one, but I'm so proud all the same.
  9. Re-doing my bathroom, with spill-over into a bit of kitchen-updating.  (I'll blog about the finished bathroom someday in the near future.)

How about YOU?  What made you feel proud this year?

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See what everyone else has to say here!

 

 


Journey's End

Here it is - the end of December - and I've entered my year-in-review time.  I really like looking back over the almost-finished year -- to reflect on what I did, what I accomplished, what I learned.

Let's begin with One Little Word.

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If you've been reading my blog for a while, you already know that I choose "one little word" to live with every year and invite into my life.  I sign up for Ali Edwards' online workshop, and I use her prompts as a sort of jumping-off point for exploring my word.

This year, my word was JOURNEY.

When the year began, I was hoping for a journey that would help me make new discoveries about myself, inspire me to keep moving and reaching, shake up the status quo of my life a bit . . . and maybe . . . get a little lost.  I really was ready for something new-and-different, and I was open to what that might be.

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So . . . what happened?

I found that it's quite difficult to step outside the comfort of where you are . . . to get lost somewhere else.  UNLESS . . . someone (or something) pushes you . . .

And that, of course, is exactly what happened to me this year.  Lots of somethings, actually, pushed me out of the comfort of where I was.  And I DID manage to get lost for awhile.

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I set off last January on a JOURNEY with a vague sense of direction, but an uncertain destination.  After some frustrating detours and more than a couple of missed exits, I ended up stranded in a wilderness for awhile.  Eventually, I sorted myself out and found my path again.

But.

You know what?

It was NOT the path I expected.  (And that was the entire point!)

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As I say goodbye to my word this year, I want to remember what I learned:

  • That it's good to stretch in new ways; if you keep doing the same things in the same way, you're going to keep feeling the same feelings.
  • That it's okay to be uncertain . . . of where you're headed, of what's going to happen next, of which way to turn.
  • That barriers don't have to be permanent -- and can be breached, broken, or trampled.
  • That sometimes detours offer an even better view (that you would've missed altogether otherwise).
  • That stepping out of your comfort zone is not comfortable -- and that's okay!

I've reached the end of my 2015 JOURNEY.  Onward . . . to new discoveries (and a whole new word) in 2016.

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If you're interested in exploring a word of your own in 2016, it's time again to sign up for Ali Edwards' One Little Word workshop.  I've taken part for the last five years (and will be joining again in 2016) -- and have gained some powerful insights about myself each year.  The workshop is very adaptable.  Ali provides a monthly prompt to get you thinking about/connecting with your word.  You can use these prompts as a springboard for just personal reflecting or journaling -- or you can go all in and create a lovely scrapbook/mixed media/photography project for your word.  There are community forums and a Facebook group to connect with other participants if that's your thing.  Really . . . adaptable, and always thought-provoking.  (This year, I created a little "journey journal" where I reflected about/responded to the prompts -- and collected all kinds of other things related to my "journey."  Not a scrapbook at all -- but something that worked for me.)

Join in!  Sign up for One Little Word here.