Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Hats off... and more

Today is another day of firsts. This would have been my father's  birthday. He loved celebrating birthdays as it usually brought all his favourite people together. I believe Dad loved celebrating his birthday because it reminded him that he lived one more year in-spite of MS. It reminded him that even living in a wheelchair, his life rolled along quite nicely. Oh, it wasn't perfect but as he would often say... no life is.

A friend told me when he died that she was going to miss seeing him rolling down the street to the mall wearing his cap. From his daily coffee meet-ups with the 'old codgers club' to his dinner dates with his best gal, he was always recognized. It wasn't just because he rolled through the neighbourhood but because he also never left the house without wearing a cap. He loved the dapper look a good cap gave him but he was also "hair challenged" so the cap helped to protect this head from sunburn or wind chills. When I took up knitting, I made an alpaca ear-flap toque that he only wore when it was colder than -10 otherwise it was far too hot for him. He did love that soft 'paca toque.

Today, through tears... I will celebrate the memories of past parties. Laughing with him when he was given a balloon party hat for his 75th birthday. Teasing him about that ugly straw hat he always wore in the summer. And I'll finish that toque I started making for him... to be given away to a shelter. I couldn't bring myself to finish it after he died but now, I can't think of a better way to honour the day then by giving away his gift to another who needs it... it's something he would've done anyways.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Changes or some such thing...

I have always been plagued with self-doubt. Lately, it's all I can do to go to work and wonder what changes may occur that I just may not be able to deal with. Link that with General Anxiety Disorder and it's a recipe for disaster. Here's the irony to changes tho... chopped all my hair off and letting the "arctic highlights" shine bright and nary a moment of doubt was in play. It was freeing.

It's all about what I can control and I understand that. I can control my hair but I can't control changes at work. I can control who I spend personal time with and how we help each other be better people. I'm not here to solely make others look good to other people. I don't expect others to make me look... that's totally up to my self-doubting self. While my family and friends may be a reflection of me I have no expectations that what they do reflects on me or I on them.

There is the crux of my self-doubt and anxiety... I spend too much time worrying about what I'm incapable of and not enough on what I've been able to accomplish on my own two bunioned feet. I worry about what others think of me when I'm in full panic mode and unable to manage even the simplest of things... that what happens to me reflects badly on those around me. All I want to do then is hide and yes, knit... something I have full control over.

Every project I finish... every sock that that fits... every shawl that drapes... I am one stitch closer to a better self. Forgiving myself isn't easy but if I can rip back an old unfinished project from hell and start something new... I need to be able to allow myself to also let go and start anew. While I'm great at giving positive talk to others... positive self talk is not my forte. When I'm in high anxiety mode being positive is the furthest from my mind. I guess one good thing is I recognize this. Isn't that what they say... recognizing the problem is the first step to healing?

I have a lot of steps to go... still...  and lots of knitting to help get me there. In the mean time... I'll hang onto the big step of letting my true hair shine through... and to help get through the dark, I'll stash bust in the yarn room and look for colours to help me shine.

Monday, 29 February 2016

More madness...

So it's Sock Madness... aka SM10... time again... where knitters from around the world play a speed sock knitting game for bragging rights. Tendinitis in my right thumb always keeps me humble. Frankly, I'm happy if I finish the qualifying socks and with a second pair. Once a toe up or colour work pattern comes into play I gracefully bow out... hollering 'oh, damn' when the pattern pops up is graceful, isn't it?
Being a relative newbie in the game, I'm still fascinated with the whole process and all the work the organizers put into this competition. I know how to organize events. It's a whole lotta work but what the SM10 folks do is like wrangling cats from all corners of the earth who are all special snowflakes in their respective time zones!

So what is it that makes this special snowflake play this crazy game? Focus. This helps me focus on one thing and that, in my crazy, wackadoodle anxiety filled world, is a good thing. The goal of focusing and finishing a funky pair of socks within two weeks (or less) is very satisfying and oddly enuff, calming for me. Maybe because real life is a whole lot of "hurry up and wait and change it again" work projects... and why the thumb isn't too happy right now. During this game, the world around me is shut out while I knit one stitch at time... one row at a time till the toes are complete and I put them on. The satisfaction is huge... as is my smug smile when I look at my feet and think how cool they are.

Anxiety isn't cool but focusing on cool things to help calm the spirit is well worth the effort. Sooooo... let the stash diving commence but first... where is that Arnica for me thumb?

Monday, 8 February 2016

planes, trains and automobiles...

I'm taking the LRT to work now... long story short, I lost my downtown parking but it's not all that bad. I'm saving some money with only buying train tickets vs. parking fees. I don't have to deal with rush hour traffic anymore. The walk to and from the station isn't bad at all even when the wind is nasty.

But... I have to plan things a bit more. No more last minute errands on the way home after work. There's as much leg room as one has on the cheap seats on planes. It gets pretty dang warm on the trains and that's a problem for when my internal solar flares kick in!

But... I get to knit. A 20 minute train ride is enough time to complete at least two rounds on a pair of socks or a few rows of plain garter knitting on a shawl. Focused knitting is an interesting way to calm the mind even with the hustle and bustle and bell dinging.

I've started to read a book called Knit for Health and Wellness. Most knitters know that we do this to keep from hurting people... well, that's what we jokingly say but there may actually be something to that. So... while I attempt to avoid elbowing my seat partner, my goal is to put into practice what I learn from the book and share said learning's here.

In the mean time, let's see how many shawls I can finish on the train over the year... one done... second one on its way.


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Keep Calm and Garter On...

Today is #BellLetsTalk day... where Bell donates 5cents for every tweet etc. to mental health initiatives across the country. The irony is that exactly one year ago today, I went on medical stress leave for a month. Lots have happened since then... I've come a long way since that major anxiety attack that brought me to uncontrollable tears and down to my knees. I still have a ways to go but I do recognize my growth.

It wasn't a rosy year but knowing today that I'm not where I was last this time last year has given me strength. I've re-learned to notice the anxiety moments and manage them a whole lot sooner. How? Breathing is cliché but that is a part of it. Closing my office door when I need time to myself or even just saying 'no' when I just can't deal with crowds.

And then there is knitting... surprise! I have come to enjoy the simple garter stitch. You know the one... the basic back and forth knitting. What I call my 'stupid knitting'... when I don't have to think about following a chart or counting stitches or remembering if this was the cable row or not. Simple, "I don't have to look" kinda knitting. It is these moments where can just focus on the movement of my fingers and watch the growth of the project... my Zen. There is something very pleasing about that.

When I need to quiet the mind... I've come to learn that the garter stitch is my friend... the one that is always there for you no matter what happens in your life. The one that will hold your hand and just say 'there, there' with no expectations other than knowing that that is enuff.

I'm almost finished my wee Baktus Scarf... maybe it's time to do another Doctor Who scarf... the ultimate in Zen knitting... or a test of my resolve. Either way, sometimes it really is just about the journey.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Sweet 16...?

I'm hoping 2016 will be sweet since 2015 was a year I'm more than happy to say goodbye to. Between the ex-boss that resulted in stress leave from work, managing the returned panic attacks, holding my father's hand while he was in palliative care... and so much more... 2015, well, it wasn't nice knowing you. 

Without my father to talk to, a lot of things built up far more that it normally would have. Strange how that happens. When I'd return from a work trip, he'd be the first person I'd call to tell him all about it. My last week long work trip in December was very stressful and I missed my father even more. He would have talked me down, tell me "all is ok, dear" and then would ask what I was knitting while sitting in those "swanky hotel rooms us government folk got"... oh, he was a funny guy!

My biggest cheerleader is no longer there for me and my un-balanced core needs to hear "all is ok, dear" even more. So this year will be a year of looking to hear those words in different ways. A year of simplifying things in order the clear the clutter... oh, don't worry... I'm not going all granola or anything. While I research and learn and write... it's all to find my centre again.

Of course, knitting will be involved. I believe that art, in all it's many forms, is healing. Knitting has been my healer and carried me in the past and it will again. The simplifying begins with knitting projects that only my stash will support (unless I'm travelling cuz souvenir yarn doesn't count). Good thing I have a large stash. 

Another step... chopped off my hair to a spunky pixie cut! It has always been long since high school. Good thing there's knitting for in-spite of having my own internal solar flares (that's another story), the neck gets a tad cold but oh, the amount of shampoo I'm saving!

While I go through 2016... I will go through it remembering my father's big Irish heart and twinkly blue eyes. While he may no longer be here... my new tat is as my reminder that he is always with me. The k
nit blue celtic-knot heart with a sprig of Irish Heather is on my right arm so that when I knit, or do anything else, I see it... my reminder that all will be ok.

Last year was a year of heartbreaking tears... this year? Healing tears of joy... and when I begin to doubt, all I need to do is touch my Blue Heart... breathe deep and say to myself, all will be ok.

Oh, and it was yet another shawl I was knitting in that 'swanky' hotel... yup... one healing tear at a time.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS... with apologies to Mr. Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a gift was wrapped, maybe 'cause I'm soused.
The baking's done and frozen outside with some care 
Everyone best like them or I'll be a damn grumpy bear.

CatMate is nestled... adding more fur to the bed.
I doubt he's dreaming, just snoring instead
I'm still in my pj's... braless of course.
Watching Doctor Who, a marathon in full force.

When out on the deck there arose such a clatter,
I limped from the lazyboy... me face covered in batter.
Away to the doors I muttered, 'oh balderdash'
Peered through the window and checked out the mountain ash.

The sand on the crest of the newly shovelled snow
Made it easier for the neighbourhood dogs to go...
When, what to my bleary eyes should appear
That damn YEG magpie squawking with cheer.

With the little ol' bird, so annoyingly quick,
I knew the lil' bastard was up to his tricks.
More rapid than swallows his curse shouting it came,
He whistled, and cawed, and shouted out names;

"Now, merino! Now, 'paca, now, chashmere and llama!
On, angora! on qivet! on, camel and 'paca!
To the top of the shelf! to the top of the cupboard!
Now Stash away! Stash away! Stash away all!"

And then, in a instant, I heard with some awe
The prancing and pawing of each little claw.
Eating the cookie dough, and turned quick around,
Up on the deck railing YEG Magpie came with a bound.

He was dressed all in his feathers, no more no less
No clothes he wore... sad I was, I must confess...
A bundle of fluff he had flung on his back,
He was looking for a spot to drop his wee pack.

His eyes -- they looked wary, he wasn't too merry!
Those iridescent feathers was none too luminary!
His sad little beak was chomping some chow,
While his wings kept flapping all crazy and how;

The stump of a chip he held tight in his beak,
It was all he had, he looked a tad bleak;
I offered him cookie dough, some raisons for his belly
The closer he came, well, he was a bit smelly.

Soon he was perched on the edge of the bowl,
Bobbing and diving; overeating was his goal;
With warmth on his back and a gentle touch to his head,
Soon gave him to know he had nothing to dread;

He squawked not a sound, but went straight to his pack,
Unloaded all his fluff; dropped pretty needles with a good wack,
And placing his head on the side of me nose,
I tied on him a wee muffler, with a tear, I must disclose;
He sprang from the deck, along with a whistle,
Away he flew with the speed of a missle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he flew out of sight,