confessions of a tight knitter

the sea

I didn’t have a photo to go along with any of the different topics in this post, so I’m placing one of my favorite images here. Maybe it will soften the blow for the randomness you’re about to read.

I think I had a dream about Burt Reynolds last night. Not the “now” Burt, but the younger, Smokey and the Bandit Burt. This has nothing to do with the rest of the post – I just wanted to document this somewhere.

I’ve been called a tight knitter. (For the record, I call myself a stone cold knitter.) I guess that could be considered an insult, but I have this new thing where no matter what kind of comment I receive, I try and take it as a compliment:

Dental Hygienist: You have a lot of saliva.
Me: OMG!! Thank you!!! I didn’t think anyone would notice!!!!

Lab Technician: You have tiny veins (after unsuccessfully poking me four times for a blood test).
Me: Do you know how long I’ve waited to hear those four words? I love you, Lab Technician…

Back to knitting. Okay, so my stitches are tightlywoventogether.  You could easily jump to the next logical conclusion: I’m wound tightly.

(I know, this is kind of a weird post. Burt Reynolds, medical personnel, and now knitting, but not having much to do with knitting, either. I understand. You’re angry and confused because you really wanted the details of my Burt Reynolds-infused dream. Or maybe you’re not even in front of your computer anymore. My eager-to-please tendencies are severely tested by this, yet the feline part of me is totally unconcerned.)

I can admit to this. Tight stitches = perfection, control, fear of failure. (I’m only speaking for myself of course, because I dig metaphors and I’m always on the lookout for lessons from inanimate objects.) But here’s the thing: I used to be even more tightly wound. You see, I have a very severe Inner Critic. But in the past few years, I’ve begun to feel more grounded and centered. Some of the seeds I’ve planted – realizations, practices, mindfulness, self-care, trust – have slowly started to emerge. It’s pretty awesome, even with its crazy and unpredictable moments. The Inner Critic can be a dirty bastard, so it has been a delightful surprise when I can either head it off at the pass, give it the side eye, or be met with serene silence.

I’m serious. My head is more empty than ever before. If you don’t believe me, I’ve also included a photo below of the white noise in my brain:

 

 

 

Isn’t it lovely? Don’t give up, TightKnitters. Plant those seeds. Plant a lot of them, and often. This is what it’s like to tame the beast. And someday you, too, can have an empty head just like mine.

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stone cold knitter

i miss my cat.

I’m an on-again, off-again knitter. I’m in on-mode right now, having been inspired by a friend who has been crocheting those cute amigurumi figures. I’m of Japanese descent, and it has taken me forever to learn and remember that word. Amygummy? Agroommy? Ergimummy? Argh!!

I love yarn, especially when the fiber is spun from alpacas. I love wooden needles and the fact that you can’t bring them to jury duty because it is a known fact that knitters are stone. Cold. KILLERS.

I’ve been trying to knit the perfect hat. This has been going on for years. The only hat I’ve ever kept was the one I subsequently lost in Scotland. Every time I travel I somehow manage to leave behind some article of clothing. (I am choosing to let that last sentence sound sexy and daring, even though it involves beanies and stretched-out sweatshirts.) In fact, I’ve hardly kept anything I’ve ever made, save a few coffee cup cozies and some crocheted roses my armygrummi friend taught me how to make.

Why is this?

a) I’m a perfectionist unwilling to compromise the highest apex of my expectations
b) I give everything away as part of my plan to clothe the heads of the entire population, one hat at a time
c) I look terrible in hats

See? I look like Michael Nesmith. I’m very upset because the hat is too small for my head. And it’s making me look like I have sideburns.

All are sort of true. But the thing that dawned on me this morning is that I actually enjoy the process. Screw the outcome. My task, my lesson, is to appreciate what is happening in the moment. Sometimes I feel disappointed that I didn’t capture a moment with my camera or that a better camera would be able to perfectly capture a scene…and then I remember that I am here, seeing this perfect thing at the most perfect of moments. That I can choose how I want to see what I see. Moments like this shift my perspective and depth of gratitude. Knitting, you are a surprising teacher.

Yes, we’re stone-cold killers. But we can also be found staring lovingly at our inordinate amounts of yarn and our beautifully crafted weapons of choice.

It’s the alpaca heart in us.

ghosts

Memory

 

Everyone is haunted by something.

Be it love, disappointment, loss, or the ghost of who we are at our core – we are haunted.

Our ghosts can propel us in a myriad of directions. We can run as far as we can, even to the ends of the earth, but the faster we run, the more they chase us down. Some want to possess us; others want to teach us. Sometimes we can’t tell the difference and without question, we run like hell.

I had an older sister who died when I was four years old. I know my mother is haunted by the memory of her and by the other experiences she’s had in her life – some I know about and some she won’t tell me. I cannot remember one single thing about my sister, try as I might. Years and years ago I had a dream about her: She was lying down on the ground and I reached to open a small door in her back. I placed some garlic bulbs in there, closed the door and voila! She sat up and starting walking around. She was alive.

I recently found an old article by Martha Beck about how having a mishap is a chance to expand your outlook. She wrote:

“…shit happens. Randomly. But here’s an amazing human capacity: We can use virtually any experience as a catalyst for hopelessness or growth. We can see the world as if everything is meaningless or as if everything is meaningful. Each of these positions is equally untestable. So we get to choose.
     “We all have the same freedom to find and focus on the meaningful parts of our own misfortunes. Every one of us encounters random events, but we also possess a universal ability to create meaning out of suffering. We can turn a curse into a blessing, tragedy into heroism, loss into gain. Lucky us.”

I know it can be difficult to try to turn something emotionally tragic into something meaningful. It somehow feels…wrong. But I get the essence of what she is saying. Everyone copes in different ways. Whether you cope in darkness, in the light, or go in between the two, grief needs time to move from smothering you to sitting beside you. Eventually, it may reside peacefully, but it never moves out. You simply allow it to be what it is. You allow it to sit in the same room with you. That’s when your relationship to it changes.

This Buddhist practice is ideal, but I know it is damn difficult to do while in it. I don’t like grief and the causes of it. I can see it in people and sometimes it is excruciating to witness and you don’t know when and if they’ll reach for that life preserver.

I have ghosts.

Some are quite lovely, some are bothersome. Some float around, reminding me that I already have a life jacket on: really, love…stop all this flailing around.

My conscious memory does not remember my sister, but because she was a part of my experience, she is a part of me.

And there, she lives.

The Properties of Alchemy (and Meat)

**Disclaimer:  This is not a serious overview of alchemy, or meat for that matter.  If you’re a serious sort, I urge you to find other, more weighty info on Wikipedia (which will kindly lead you to scholarly sources) or look up Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.  You won’t find anything intellectual here.  Okay, I feel better now.

From what I understand, alchemy is the mystical process of turning common metals into gold.  There are a whole bunch of philosophical, scientific and psychological ideas regarding this process, but for me, it’s like this:

Running and the other types of exercise I’ve been doing are causing some sort of alchemical process to take place in my body.  My calves, which I had hoped beyond all reason would get smaller, are changing into chicken drumsticks.  My badonkadonk is like shawarma, originally stacked, but now portions are being shaved off.  And my thighs?  They are meat-filled burritos, flexing their power, when before, they were flabby and quietly respectful.  They kind of have an attitude now.

[I’m sorry if I ruined anyone’s appetite.  And, uh, I hope there aren’t any cannibals reading this.  Just to be clear, I’m speaking figuratively.  Please don’t picture me in your head right now.]

I always knew that I had to make friends with my body as part of the whole process of accepting myself.  I used to take the easy route, wearing baggy overalls that covered – well, covered everything in an extremely generous way.  But one day I saw a photo of myself in said overalls, and I cringed.  I was shapeless.  I might as well have worn a cape three sizes too big.  The poodle perm didn’t help, either.

Now?  No more perm.  No more hiding in my clothes.  Now I just need mental alchemy to help me see gold in the common form that is me.

Where do you need alchemy?