twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Decisions, decisions. January 24, 2017

Filed under: jewels,knitting,life,writing — kathy @ 11:35 am
Tags: , , , , ,
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“The only thing you want to do is stay in bed and pet me…I repeat, the only thing you want to do…”

Are you like this?

 

Over any given weekend, do you take time to make a list of things you’d like to do/accomplish during the upcoming week?

 

And then once the week begins, do the other “must handle” items like doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, and household chores get in the way and all your good intentions go out the window?

 

Does it drive you crazy, too?

 

I used to be so good about defining my goals and crossing them off my ever-lengthening to-do list—oh, how I love to cross stuff off my list—but the last few weeks, I look at that list and feel paralyzed. Forget all the other stuff that gets in the way; I just can’t choose where to start. And then I panic a little.

 

I realize some of that panic comes from the place in my head I mentioned a few weeks ago, the place where I feel I’m running out of time in my life. But this is getting out of hand. Some days I look up at the clock and see it’s noon and I am still sitting, cat on lap, trying to decide what to do that day. By then it’s usually too late to start anything of great importance, so I just run the vacuum around the house, or sort through the mail. Bleh.

 

I pondered this dilemma a good while this morning—two full coffee mug’s worth of time—(see what I mean?) and finally had this brilliant idea. Well, it seems brilliant now…we shall see.

 

Anyway, I thought that if every night before I went to bed I decided what I would tackle the following day and set things up to be able to jump right into my project, I’d be a step ahead of the game and save time, too. Kind of like laying my clothes out the night before. No heavy thinking, just get up, take care of the morning stuff, and then get to work.

 

Starting tomorrow—I mean tonight—I’ll begin this experiment. Let you know how it turns out…

 

Have you got any special ways to get your projects underway every day? Would love to know.

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Brown days January 11, 2017

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Can’t I just stay in bed and cuddle with him?

You may think from the title, that I’m referencing the dreary browns of winter, but no. Bug’s high school (can you believe she’s a senior?!) has alternating class days: brown days and gold days. On gold days, classes officially start at 8:45 am, although the teachers are available at 7:45 if the kids need to come in for help, or make up a test. But not brown days. Brown days start at 7:45.

Which means I have to get this tired body into some clothes—I never just throw a coat on over my pjs and go because the day I do that would be the day my car would break down or someone would hit me—and my teeth brushed by 6:15.  On brown days, I need to snap to it right away. Make lunch and breakfast for Bug—yes, I still do that for her, even though she can handle it herself—and drive her to school because with her recent health issues, she still hasn’t had a chance to get her license yet.

So when the alarm goes off, I hit snooze and flip the day’s plans through my head while trying to lift myself out from under a cat and the warm blankets before the alarm sounds again. I’ve done that without too much trouble over the years, but lately, I find myself really struggling. I’ve been dragging myself out of bed with a big groan.

Perhaps it’s because I’m not much of a morning person, although in the past 10 years or so, I’ve discovered that I don’t mind the early hours so much. It’s quiet in the house, in the world, even. I feel I have a little time to myself before everyone needs me to do something. My mother always got up around 5:00 am. She’d have her toast, coffee and newspaper, and let the dog out before she had to pry us kids out of bed. Smart lady.

But recently, thinking of all the things I’m planning to get done that day seem overwhelming instead of inspiring me to get a move on. It’s been harder than ever to push myself out of bed and get going, and I couldn’t figure out what to do to make it easier. I tried going to bed earlier, not using the computer right before I went to bed, even drinking some Sleepy Time Tea so I’d get a better night’s sleep. Still, early morning would come, that alarm would go off, and I’d cringe.

Then last night, while I was in the midst of my nightly prayer of gratitude, a funny old memory snuck into my thoughts.

My mom and I had been having coffee during the early morning hours of one of my summer visits home. We were chatting when we heard my dad moving around upstairs and then pretty clearly heard him swear; my mom laughed a little and told me that’s the first thing he’d been saying every morning lately. Now I don’t know if he said what he said  because he hadn’t been feeling well, or if there was some other reason for a swear to be the first thing he said in the morning. But it occurred to me then that the first thing out of your mouth, or even in your mind, shouldn’t be so negative. How could that be healthy?

I’ve always felt words have energy and power; words are a prayer.

So as I fell asleep last night, I decided to figure out a positive word I could think/say when I woke up this morning. “Welcome” was the winner, and as I woke this morning and stretched and whispered the word into the darkness, it felt soothing.

I have to admit that the rest of this morning seemed to flow with more ease and I had more patience than usual. We’ll see how the busy day ahead shakes out. Meanwhile I think I’ll continue this morning word experiment, for at least the next few months.

 

An Intentional Hail Mary January 5, 2017

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Last year I managed to do something I once promised myself I wouldn’t do: I completely, utterly ignored my blog for nearly an entire year.

Sure, past years, about midway through, life got crazy and I skipped a month or three of blogging. But the last year has been so overwhelming and relentless that every time I sat down to write, I couldn’t puzzle out where the heck to even start.

Some of you friends know the health challenges my little family has faced this past year; all of these difficulties were enough to affect each of us so deeply that just making it through each day alive was a victory. And sadly I know that many, if fact all of us out there, face tremendous struggles daily. And often, privately.

In my own case, beyond physical frustrations and pain, much of the suffering I struggle with revolves around how life has seemed to pass me by. I am haunted by my inability to yet accomplish goals I’d pinned to the walls of my mind as a bright young thing. Now tattered, these plans flap in the winds of time. The days have flown with the winds. It seems the grind of life has ground on, but I don’t feel improved by any of my trials. Older, certainly; but not wiser.

Still, recognizing that inner work needs to be done is some kind of progress, right? At least I’m awake enough to see that I need that soul work to become the person I was born to be. To be a person who lives thoughtfully, with intention and gratitude. To make thoughtfulness the place in my mind I where I automatically start thinking. To banish negativity. Especially self-directed negativity. And as though to underline all that thinking, the universe appears to be throwing teachers in my path.

Recently I came across a lovely memoir called Never Broken, by Jewel, the singer. I haven’t finished it yet, however I find myself inhaling her words. Her early years, full of struggle and pitfalls, belie the strength and insight this woman has nurtured within herself: her journaling, poetry/songwriting, and creed have a thoughtfulness that is inspirational. In the afterword of her book, she lists things she did to help “retrain” her thoughts and behaviors and they are such wise simple things such as Spend time in silence, Establish a gratitude practice, Create a home for happiness, Embrace imperfection, to name a few. To some, these statements may seem like self-help retreads, however, when read within the context of her memoir, you see them in action. She actually lives her belief that inside each of us is a perfect soul that can never be broken, and that no matter what bad things happen to you, your soul is still there, untouched and waiting for you to reveal its strength and beauty. We just have to do the work to look inside.

And then, there is my personal guru and friend, Elizabeth Duvivier. She is an amazing soul, a wise woman, a gentle but spirited teacher. She is the creator of the legendary Squam Art Workshops (which will sadly come to an end after their fall retreat this year). I was personally introduced to her genius when I took an online workshop she was offering in 2014, called The Magic of Myth. Here we studied the ancient myth of Psyche and Eros, and then, using our newly found insights, we wrote myths of our own. This class touched me in a way I hadn’t expected, however. It not only inspired me to focus on my writing again, but further, it forced me to look deeper inside myself and find the themes that defined how I saw myself…how life’s journey had shaped me.

This year, I was lucky enough to take part in Elizabeth’s “Into the Mystic” retreat. I can’t possibly go into all the details here (though perhaps I will sometime), but I found myself awakening new areas of my psyche while there. Trying to see my self without judgment, was a practice I began to work on. And very difficult indeed for me.

And in 10 days, I am thrilled to say I’ll be taking Elizabeth’s new online year-long course, The Magic of Myth II–End of the Quest. (I believe there are still spots available–you might want to check it out) We’ll be working to go further inward, to “live from our source.” By doing so, I hope to learn to be able to see and feel more clearly why I’m here. This explanation barely scrapes a tiny line into the depth I suspect this course will have, however, as Elizabeth always says, you choose how deep you want to go.

And I say, hell. Time’s running out. Go long, go deep. It’s gonna be a Hail Mary pass sort of year…I can feel it.

 

 

Time Bandits January 27, 2016

Captain Romance's Iain sweater kept me busier than heck the last few weeks before Christmas.

Captain Romance’s Iain sweater kept me busier than heck the last few weeks before Christmas.

Yup. You know how it goes: you get going on a project and the next thing you know, bang–it’s time to pick up the kid, start dinner, do the dishes, and lay your head down for another day.

Been like that around here for days and weeks and months.

And it generally starts innocently at the beginning of the school year with the idea that I’ll  knit a couple of gifts for Christmas, or dye some yarn and list it in the Etsy shop, or perhaps make a whole new line of necklaces to sell or give as gifts. Sew myself a couple of tops with that cool new Double Gauze I’m seeing everywhere. And spend a week cleaning out the closets. Love doing that. Oh yes, and there’s the writing, too. Oh, the writing.

The writing is the thing that my Time Bandits love most. Once I get going, everything but the story, the laptop, and the music coming from my earbuds disappear around me. Time disappears. Literally.

I read somewhere that that means one is working “in the zone.” All I know, is when I finally surface after hours of writing, I’m drained. But drained in a good way. Like the way you feel after a good yoga class. Like I accomplished something.

I hope you have something that makes you feel that way. Now if I could only figure out a way to keep those dang Time Bandits at bay.

Here are a few of the two dozen new yarns I just added to my Etsy yarn shop

Here are a few of the two dozen new yarns I just added to my Etsy yarn shop

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Here are my new Stagger Mitts (there's also a headband)--a new pattern I wrote up to be used with my new yarns.

Here are my new Stagger Mitts (there’s also a headband)–a new pattern I wrote up to be used with my new yarns.

Here they are modeled by a darling friend of Bug.

Here they are modeled by a darling friend of Bug’s.

 

Here goes… April 2, 2015

My entry, "the epiphany box"

My entry, “the epiphany box”

So last time I was here I posted a snippet of a VIP (Very Important Project) I’d sunk my teeth into. I didn’t mean to be a tease or anything, I just didn’t want to reveal anything until it was finished and winging its way to the contest I was entering. And believe me, this project took up nearly every moment since I first showed you. Everything–well nearly everything–in my life got sidelined. It was exhilarating to be so immeshed in a thing so creative. It’s been ages since I felt that way. In a nutshell, the contest challenge was to take an old Squam Art Workshop tote and repurpose it into…well something else. The prize is a scholarship to any 2015 or 2016 session of Squam the winner chooses. How could I resist the challenge? And though the concept/idea of what I wanted to express was quite clear in my mind, for the better part of the last couple of months I’ve been experimenting with exactly how to turn it into art. The only thing I knew was that I’d be cutting apart and embroidering the tote for a cover of some sort. At first I thought I’d make a lovely handcrafted journal and fill it with writing and drawings. I set out at once to teach myself to make a book with an exposed coptic stitch spine. Ha. Easier said than done. Plus, I kept wanting to incorporate three dimensional items into the journal, and wasn’t able to figure out how to do that and make it work the way I wanted. The only answer was to toss my control freak self out the window and, as Elsa would say, “Let it go.What I came up with was this: the epiphany box. Here’s the idea: Everything you need is within you: the moment I read the sentiment on the tote, the idea for my entry was clear. I wanted to illustrate how, after taking Elizabeth Duvivier’s (the creator/founder of Squam and all around amazing goddess-woman) “The Magic of Myth” course last spring, I realized that the way I wanted to live my life was inside me all along. I wanted to show how my heart had opened I was inspired to listen and jump back onto my creative path. IMG_2675Holding that memory, I took a deep breath and began to reconstruct the lovely tote into a suitcase which would represent the beginning of that journey–the epiphany I had a year ago. To more deeply illustrate “Everything you need is within you,” I hand-embroidered and reverse appliqued the poppy so that it reveals itself from behind a “window” in the linen. It scatters its seeds (antique French glass beads), planting ideas and spreading its joy wherever its seeds land. I then applied the hand-embroidered piece to the case which I’d painted with scenes of poppy fields all around the sides and on the back. I sewed seven giant “poppy seeds” of black felt and placed them inside the bottom of the case; tucked within each felt seed I placed a little glass bottle to represent a gift or skill that I feel I possess or have reclaimed.

The little bottles that'll go inside the felt "poppy seeds."

The little bottles that’ll go inside the felt “poppy seeds.”

Examples of a few bottles--"Writer," "Fiber Addict," and  "Jeweler."

Examples of a few bottles–“Writer,” “Fiber Addict,” and “Jeweler.”

The "Lover" bottle next to a  filled "poppy seed."

The “Lover” bottle next to a filled “poppy seed.”

Beneath the poppy seeds in the bottom of the box I put a drawing of where my heart felt stuck before The Magic of Myth class. The drawing I made inside the top lid illustrates the release of creativity and love I felt bursting back into my world during the class, much like the poppy’s release of seeds.

The drawings...I'm so happy with them. Why has it been so long since I drew anything?

The drawings…I’m so happy with them. Why has it been so long since I drew anything?

Even though I love to write more than just about anything, the exercise of drawing again filled me with a mixture of thrill and terror. Could I still draw? Would I be able to draw what I saw in my mind’s eye? You be the judge if it’s effective, but I ended up happy with the result. What I found was that the process of drawing was so exhilarating that all I wanted to do for nearly a week was draw. Sigh.

Suitcase with seeds piled inside.

Suitcase with seeds piled inside.

The box is on its way to Rhode Island now for judging and I can’t wait to find out the verdict. But I feel, in my own heart, with the reconnection I’ve made with drawing and embroidery, I’ve already won something, you know? What do you think? I’d love to hear…

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Insane brain November 13, 2014

Just a tiny sample...

Just a tiny sample of rosary bracelets and chaplets…

And that’s putting it mildly.

This is my craziest time of year, with custom orders, and trunk shows and craft fairs, forget about Thanksgiving and Christmas, both of which will likely be spent here in pjs and slippers. As my teenaged Bug says, I just don’t have the spoons for it all. Sigh.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been focused on putting together new designs for my annual holiday trunk show and a craft boutique for my local parish church. I have been working on and off all year on sparkly new stuff for the trunk show, so it’s not like I’m only doing all this last minute. However there is definitely something in me that loves a bit of a challenge, not to mention the part that has a last minute inspiration for a design. And then there are last minute Christmas custom orders.

That said, I decided to take a little pressure off by allowing myself to do just the parish Christmas Boutique now, and do the trunk show at Valentine’s Day–oh wait, I think I mentioned that last week. See…insane brain.

My fingertips are twanging as I type this because I’ve been making chaplets and rosaries and rosary bracelets for days now. A completely wire-wrapped bronze or sterling gemstone rosary takes an entire day (give or take a quick vacuuming or a load of laundry). Thing is, I shouldn’t probably make so many pieces. Especially rosaries. I should know better than to make too many because invariably someone (or two) will come up to my display and wrinkle their noses or gasp at my prices. It makes me crazy, because my work isn’t the kind of “made in China” assembly line stuff you find in a Christian Book Store. It’s actually something made by hand of fine metals and gemstones, one-of-a-kind and meant to be an heirloom.

But I digress.

And I’d better get back to work so I might be able to squeak out some time to daydream…I have a story percolating in my head, all itching to get out and written. And a load of laundry. And dinner. Oh yes, and maybe some long neglected knitting (whaaaa). 😦 There’s just too much stuff in my head.

What I need is an hour spent at this amazing spa called Watercourse Way. Hmm. maybe I need to book an appointment for one the week after this boutique. I have a gift certificate, after all.

I hope I made some sense today. What gets you going this time of year? I’d love to know I’m not alone.

 

Write now…right now! November 5, 2014

Filed under: knitting,writing — kathy @ 11:56 am
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Ah, this would be my dream writing spot. Maybe someday...

Ah, this would be my dream writing spot. Maybe someday…

Hello dear friends!

Just the other day I had a nagging feeling I’d forgotten something…low and behold, I realized I hadn’t written a post here in nearly 2 months. For shame! I can only blame it on the fact that I’ve been busy writing other things, namely researching and writing a short story to submit for an upcoming fantasy anthology, and editing my novel, Lore. What wonderfully all-consuming projects. Whenever I write, no matter if I find myself blocked and agonizing over plot, or if I’m flying through the story with it flowing easily from my mind to my fingers, I find hours fly past. It is truly my deepest devotion, writing. To that end, I think I should focus more on writing here, as well.

 

Then there is knitting…T_MaryFrancesCover

I’ve been making good progress on my Clown Barf shoulder wrap, poncho-thingy. Just a few more “tiers” to go. And thank goodness; we’ve been waking to 40 degree temps–finally! Sweater weather at last. Though we have still had more than a typical number of over 80 degree days in the last month or so. Hmphf. I wish I could like hot weather. I just cannot take it. Even when I was a kid I wasn’t happy with heat and sweating. Ah well.

On the upside, though, it is easier to get yarn to dry when it’s warm outside, so I might just have to schedule some dyeing…;)

I’d really like to get underway with a couple of cardigans, and maybe even a last minute Christmas giftie. What’s Christmas without a frenzied race to finish a handmade gift, right?

And then there’s that Holiday Boutique I signed up to do. Many of you know I make jewelry, but I don’t know if you’ve heard I make rosaries and rosary bracelets, too. So the first weekend of December (in fact, about a month from now) I’ll be at our local church selling those items, as well as a few regular jewelry items, since I won’t be having a Christmas Trunk Show this year. I’ll be posting the address soon, in case any of you local readers might want to attend. I’d love to see you!

And instead of the Christmas Show, I’m planning on having a Valentine’s Day Trunk Show. Kind of a “buy something for your sweetie to give you Show”, or “give yourself some love this Valentine’s Day Show.”

Well, better skeedaddle…got lots going on!

What sorts of things are keeping you busy right now? Tell me–I’d love to know!

 

 
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