Thursday, August 27, 2015

Alone...

Last week's gifts...
1886. Sitting on the couch together after Brooklyn and Tobin went to bed, knitting and reading (respectively)
1887. The new knit shop being pleased with how I used the yarn I bought
1888. A card-making night at Fellowship North, for the prayer team/card sending ministry
1889. Picking up breakfast at Beast for all of us with Brooklyn and Tobin, then meeting Adam after his class
1890. Getting to the post office before they closed
1891. Reconciliation
1892. An evening trail walk
1893. Tobin putting up with the sun hat - it kept the sun out of his eyes, but also kept him from being able to see past his own double chin
1894. Brooklyn eating her very own taco, and sharing her guacamole with Tobin (she was more excited about the arrangement than he was)
1895. Long-awaited pre-ordered books arriving in the mail
1896. UK pattern sales - I never know if I've sold any until the end of the month, and it's always a pleasant surprise
1897. A knit night at a knitting store - it's been awhile!
1898. Surviving a very long day
1899. A relaxing Adventure To An Undisclosed Location that I didn't have to plan
1900! A lovely visit over tea with a new mentor/friend
1901. Finding a tasty and (comparatively) inexpensive brand of gf cookies at Target
1902. Gorgeously cool evenings
1903. Sweet friends who send random and wholly unexpected notes of encouragement that arrive exactly when they're needed
1904. Adam having leave so that he could take off extra days to bracket a busy weekend
1905. Sharing our cookies-and-library tradition with Adam
1906. Convincing Tobin to go back to bed after he woke up at 5am and getting an afternoon nap myself - much needed rest


I've spent a lot of my life lonely - either due to my own tendencies or an unfortunate series of events that simply culminated in loneliness. That's caused some degree of angst, frustration, and depression.

But alone is a whole 'nother animal. As an introvert, alone time is how I recharge. Human contact drains my battery slowly and insidiously, and the only thing that will bring that little red bar back up to a full green one is solitude.

Understand that I do enjoy spending time with people. I love my husband, kids, and family - I relish interacting with local business owners - I like going to knit nights and church functions, be it a study or a class or a crafting session - I sought out a mentor last week who came to visit a few days ago and we spent a couple of hours talking and decided to make it a weekly thing, and I didn't regret a single click of the energy that that drained.

And yet... there comes a point (daily, if I'm honest, although it doesn't usually happen that often) at which, in order to maintain reasonable functionality and keep senseless snapping to a minimum, I need to spend some time alone. Journaling. Praying. Knitting. Maybe listening to a podcast or some music, or maybe reveling in glorious silence. A time that I can process everything I've thought or encountered over the course of the day that I wasn't able to adequately deal with at the time but was too important to just lay aside. A time to Be Still and not just pray "I need this thing and I need it right now" prayers, but to praise and adore and listen. A time to finish a whole thought, from beginning to end, without being diverted midway in order to avert a potential emergency (the baby who can't sit up on his own yet can somehow climb and requires a lot of rescuing and consolation).

Even now, I chose the deserted patio at our nearest coffee shop, preparing myself mentally and emotionally for a people-filled weekend. I'm grateful for the friendship that causes such things, and glad that loneliness is becoming less and less of a struggle - but I'm also grateful in this moment that I can be alone.

Blending One Thousand Gifts with Five Minute Friday - a weekly flashmob of bloggers that gather, internet-wide, to write for five minutes (no stopping, no editing) on a prompt provided by sweet Kate, then link up and share a little comment love. For more posts, more info, and/or to join in, head here!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tribe


It is a tragic fact that we become complacent far too easily. A few weeks ago, we were faced with a potential decision that sent us into a flurry of discussion and prayer and introspection. The decision was ultimately made for us, and in the wake of it we realized that we should have been doing all of that talking and praying and thinking all along, not just in a moment of perceived crisis.


One message that came through clearly to us was wherever you are, be all there. I will admit to having failed at that lately - we moved here and I sort of started trying to get settled and then quickly gave up, citing a toddler and a baby as reasons against fully engaging with our church and with local businesses.


But when we went to the paleo food truck on Saturday morning for breakfast, she remembered my name (there's one place we've definitely frequented, despite the occasional inconvenience) - and when we got cookies at Dempsey Bakery after a library trip a few weeks ago, Paula, the owner, told me about a new knitting store that had just opened at the beginning of the month (she knits - I don't remember how I found that out initially, but we generally talk about knitting when I go and she's there).


So, in the spirit of adventure, exploration, and being "all there," we braved the rain one day last week to visit Yarn Kandy. It is delightful. Some shops are so poked full that you can't even appreciate what's there - some are too big, or too small - some consider crocheting a task fit only for those who are mentally incapable of knitting - some assume that if you're younger than they are, you must be inferior in skill - and then some places are everything I would want a knit shop to be.


I've found a few like that, in all the shops I've been in... I love Hand Held, the shop I worked at in Fayetteville, and still visit whenever I have a chance - and it's largely shaped my views on what a knit shop should be (along with Purl Soho and Brooklyn General). Yarn Kandy met and exceeded my expectations.


Kandy (the adorable owner) sweetly invited me in, ascertained if I was a knitter, crocheter, or both, explained the layout of the shop, and continued to maintain friendly (but not pushy) conversation while I browsed. She learned to knit when she was eight, but really embraced it when her father died in 2001 - she was looking for something to ground her, and hasn't put it down since (except when she learned to spin a few years ago). She has a retail and business background, so after talking to another knit shop owner and accompanying her to Market last May, she dove in.





And I'm so glad that she did! Her shop is one of the smaller ones that I've seen, but she's used the space very well - a good selection of yarns, needles, notions, and even some spinning supplies. There's a table in the middle of the room surrounded by comfy chairs, most of which have been occupied by happily chatting knitters every time I've been in (yes, I've gone there more than once in the past seven days).



She has a yarn line from Ewe Ewe (which I'd never seen before) that I loved - Wooly Worsted is machine washable merino in 20 different colors, so I got a few balls to knit a skirt for Brooklyn. I finished it the next day (here's Norma Louise, named after my great-grandmother, if you know a tiny person that needs a tiny skirt), and went back for more to supplement the leftovers. Now I have a pair of pants on the needles for Tobin.


I miss my knitting tribe in Fayetteville. And while I've loved meeting (and creating) knitters at church, I think I'll also be frequenting Yarn Kandy on a regular basis. As much as I enjoy spending time with people who have different interests and viewpoints than I do, sometimes it's nice to gather with my own particular subculture, and speak my language without having to translate.


Beautiful dwelling is pursuing your passions and the people who share them.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Shenanigans



I spent all week trying and failing to get a picture of Tobin's adorable new snaggle-toothed smile (two teeth on the bottom, one on the top). Toothless smiles are my favorite - but this one's pretty cute. Unfortunately, the acquisition of teeth hasn't made him any more interested in solid food yet, but I'm still trying.

He can sit up on his knees and hang onto something with one hand while reaching/rummaging with the other one - he's determined to get to the bottom of his sister's toy bin, but thankfully he's fairly easy to distract and redirect. It helps that he tends to blow fierce raspberries while he's doing things he shouldn't, telling on himself so that we can come and intervene.


Brooklyn very patiently instructs him in all of the things she thinks are important. She's demonstrated How To Buckle Buckles, How To Pray, and How To Hold A Book Properly - the latter didn't go so well (he tried to eat it, instead) so now she just reads them to him. She's also wholly embraced the concept of the library, of keeping books for a week then taking them back and exchanging them for different ones, and has started bringing them to me after a few days asking, "Fresh books?"

She wanted to share her guacamole with Tobin - he tolerated it, better than he has a lot of things, but didn't ask for more

The cooler weather trend has continued all week, so we've been able to spend more time out and about, and just outside in general. It's actually rained quite a bit, but we need it so no complaints there. The shade and cool wind that come with the storms are gloriously refreshing, and I really like being able to get from the car to the grocery store without dripping sweat by the time I get inside.


This week starts with a few normal days before a long weekend and a friend's wedding. So many adventures to be had! And so much more enjoyable now that there's a hint of fall on the breeze...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Find...

The weekly reckoning...
1865. Spending a peaceful half hour at the library with Brooklyn and Tobin
1866. An extra day off for Adam
1867. Brooklyn thinking that books are better than cookies (although, she was open to having both)
1868. A good morning session at the Strong Bonds conference, with hot tea (it was cold and I was sleepy)
1869. and the chance to have dinner together, just-us-two
1870. Brooklyn and Tobin's patience with the childcare, and being able to bring them home in the afternoon for normal naps
1871. Time for a drive between the closing morning session and church
1872. A church that values involvement, not just in their ideas but also encouraging others to pursue their passions
1873. A weekend that felt longer than it was, in a good way
1874. Brooklyn sleeping a little late (for her), after several consecutive early mornings
1875. Just enough time between naps and the evening rush hour to run a few errands
1876. Tobin's furtive independent exploration
1877. A jammy day
1878. Convincing Tobin that yes, actually, he does need more than one nap a day
1879. Surprise flowers, homemade dinner, and a couch date
1880. Everyone sleeping in a little (yay thunderstorms!)
1881. A Sabbath that included a beautiful new yarn store
1882. New Community, sharing and serving and finding a mentor
1883. Finding a versatile shirt at Target that greatly expands what I already have for fall and winter
1884. Finishing Brooklyn's skirt and her sweetly modeling it for me
1885. Adam getting home late but before Brooklyn and Tobin went to bed


I am kind of a que sera, sera kinda girl - I embrace (or resist...) things as they come, instead of seeking them out (sometimes. I've had very specific ideas that I've pursued - some of them have worked out, some of them haven't). One often meets their destiny on the road they take to avoid it - but I'd like to meet whatever-it-is head on. I approach each corner wondering what fresh adventure may be around it  - even though I have no idea what that adventure will look like.

It may be messy (a move, an artistic endeavor, a toddler). It may be big (an overwhelming feeling, an epic event, or something physically large). It may be wet (splashing in the ocean, or in a puddle). It may be loud (laughter, roaring airplane engines, or new neighbors). It may be fuzzy (literally or figuratively). It may be bright (a suddenly sunny day or a sparkling conversation). It may be wonderful. It may be something that I initially recoil from but learn to embrace after closer examination.

But the unknown doesn't keep me from moving forward - it doesn't keep me from wondering, from wandering, from seeking. I may not look for specific adventures much of the time... but somehow, they find me.

Blending One Thousand Gifts with Five Minute Friday - a weekly flashmob of bloggers, internet-wide, who gather to write for five minutes (no stopping, no editing) on a prompt provided by sweet Kate, then link up and share a little comment love. For more info, more posts, and/or to join in, head here!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Simply Tuesday


"You already know life is sacred. You know the moments count. You know that most of the tasks on your to-do list aren't all that important in the scheme of things. And yet..." -from Simply Tuesday by Emily P Freeman

And yet. It's the "and yet" that gets me every time. The hustle that's waiting for me when I wake up every morning like an impatient cat, pawing the bed and wanting its bowl filled, just so that it can snub it and tell me that I've gotten it wrong - again.


Simply Tuesday releases today, but I've had an advance copy I've been devouring for several weeks. I already loved her last book, A Million Little Ways, her blog, and her Hope*ologie contributions - and the #itssimplytuesday hashtag on Instagram, where people celebrate their ordinary mid-week moments.


Celebrating smallness is such a struggle for me - not the celebrating part {I can turn an isolated event into a tradition and a ritual before it's even over} but the leaving-it-small part. I want to elevate it, picking that flower, putting it in a vase on my counter, and posting a picture of it - when, instead, I should lie down on the ground next to it in soft-breathed admiration, embracing the stillness.


"But learning to live well in ordinary time isn't a call to elevate moments; it's a call to draw close to Christ." -from Simply Tuesday by Emily P Freeman

And there's the root of my struggle: the flaw of the sun-worshiper who revels in the warm light and directs gratitude toward it, instead of seeing the hand of the Creator in its existence and praising Him. I get so hung up in the moment itself that I can't see beyond it to the One who stands outside of time. I desperately need to tear down the ladder I'm building to Heaven and build a bench instead, as Emily suggests. To sit - just sit, and not do anything else - to breathe in the stillness and breathe out the stress.


Beautiful dwelling is both seizing and creating moments of extraordinary soul refreshment at Jesus' feet, in the midst of ordinary days.
Besides her book, which I highly recommend, Emily has many other resources for helping you escape the hustle here. Also, even though I hope you already know this, all of the views and opinions expressed here are my own (yes, even despite having been given an advance copy of the book).

Monday, August 17, 2015

Moving Along


Tobin has been making great strides (ha, ha) in his crawling ability this week. Since he's getting a little faster, Brooklyn has been teaching him how to play hide and seek - she runs out of sight around a corner and calls, "Where's Todin?" then waits for him to come, panting and squealing, into sight. They're both adorably overjoyed to see each other.


He still can't sit up, but I've been catching him trying to climb (usually in order to reach Brooklyn, who likes to sit on the coffee table so that she can read a book in peace). It took me a few seconds to process what I was seeing the first time (That person is too small to be Brooklyn, but can't possibly be Tobin...) and I've been watching him closely to make sure he doesn't succeed (or at least, get high enough that he'll hurt himself tumbling down, since he's still pretty unstable).



We went to our little nearby library a few months ago but haven't gone back - it's a dear place, but not very toddler-friendly in their setup. So last week we tried another one, a little further away but also small, and all had a grand time. We checked out a small stack of books (which Brooklyn already has half-memorized) and I think we've found a favorite library.



Over the weekend, Adam and I went to a marriage conference that the military put on (thankfully this one was local and went much more smoothly than the last one we tried to attend). Brooklyn and Tobin were very brave in childcare (it helped that we came home for afternoon naps on Saturday, and that they were together so Brooklyn could console Tobin), and Adam and I enjoyed the sessions and the discussion afterwards, and getting to eat a meal out together just-us-two for the first time since before Tobin was born.


So this is a slow recovery week, with plenty of jammy days and nothing-planned days. At some point I'd like to return our book to the library and get more to replace them, and when we visited Dempsey Bakery after our initial library trip, Paula (the owner) told me about a new knitting store that opened a few weeks ago that definitely needs to be investigated, too. ;)


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Learn...

The weekly reckoning...
1844. Meeting my parents for lunch, since they were in town on business
1845. A stitch knitted, here and there
1846. Validation for a beloved pair of shoes
1847. That Tobin goes to bed at the same time as Brooklyn (even though he gets up earlier)
1848. Adam liking the "puppy chow" snack mix I made to surprise him, despite me realizing we were out of peanut butter and having to substitute cashew butter
1849. Visible progress on my tidying project
1850. Extraordinary snail-mailed encouragement
1851. Adam having a Monday off, after having to work most of a Saturday
1852. A refreshing recharging day - hadn't had one of those in awhile!
1853. Finding a use for a pretty green ribbon that allows me to see it every day
1854. Staying on top of the Busyness, and trying to keep the pile small
1855. A library that is willing to put my knitting books into circulation, so that others can enjoy them
1856. Diary-free flavors of frozen yogurt at Orange Leaf
1857. That Brooklyn enjoys and asks for baths (so much nicer than it being a struggle!)
1858. Happy mail
1859. Errands accomplished without incident
1860. Recognizing Tobin's climbing ability before he used it to escape from his crib
1861. The opportunity to share needs and ask for prayer
1862. Actually getting cold while sitting on the balcony, watching the sun rise
1863. and a cool breeze that allowed me to sit outside and knit while everyone else napped
1864. That each day ends, and each tomorrow starts new


I learn best by three ways combined: writing, doing, and repetition. Let me take notes and I may never go back and reread them, but I'll retain the information and not need to. Let me try it with my own two hands, and it will settle into my muscle memory more firmly than a simple explanation would. And when those two fail or aren't available options, then gently reminding me of the same thing over and over and over and over will eventually do the trick.

The last one generally applies to lessons that I'm not trying to learn - conviction, direction, personal growth, that sort of thing. I'll be going along, thinking everything's ok, and then my happy little world will slowly begin to collapse around me (sometimes - other times its demise is more Atlantian). Usually it catches me so utterly off guard that I'm treading water in the middle of an ocean, wondering where my island went, before the lesson becomes clear.

I'm trying to be a better learner. To keep my ears and eyes (and heart and mind) open to direction even (and especially) when I'm comfortable right where I am. To sit down and journal through things as soon as they become things and before they become Things so that I can look back and compare yesterday to last week and last month and see what's different and what's the same. I'd like to sit eagerly at my Teacher's feet, accepting His whispered direction, instead of wandering out of earshot until He has to make trouble into a megaphone to get my attention. I'd like to approach prayer and Bible study as eagerly I used to approach the back-to-school season - with my mental pencils sharpened and notebooks neatly labeled, ready to learn.

Blending One Thousand Gifts with Five Minute Friday - a weekly flashmob of bloggers, internet-wide, that gather to write for five minutes (no stopping, no editing) on a prompt provided by sweet Kate, then link up and share a little comment love. For more info, more posts, and/or to learn more, head here.