Living Now

FrontStepsBeauty

The difficulty of living now on this side of sickness and surgery, has been  well…living. I know that sounds crazy and messed up. But there it is.

In sickness or trial of any kind, there’s an intensity to life. A laser sharp focus. No matter how yucky the circumstance may be, there’s nevertheless a funneling of all our faculties to get well, to get through it, figure out how to get to the other side of it, etc. And when we do, the exquisiteness of being on “the other side” (healthy, or pain free) gives way to daily living. This everyday mundane almost imperceptibly scatters dust on our single-minded focus. We begin to use the familiar words “busy”, “scattered”, over-committed” and quite likely we are. We may feel dull, fuzzy-headed, lacking purpose. Re-entering the flow of life after having gone on an adventure (however difficult and painful it may have been) can be disorienting. It might be likened to returning from the battle field. “OK, now what?!” is the question that haunts you , especially when the adventure changed you in some way shape or form. “How do I now live?” is a question worth exploring especially if you want to honor what you have learned and experienced, and not forget the intensity and bits of truth you received while in the trenches.

CienerPath

There is a hefty amount of verbiage these days that calls us to GRAND living. Living large, seeking adventure, playing big, rising strong, radical living, big magic, finding your passion, defying small, do what lights you up, don’t waste your life. Please, do not hear me wrong on this. I have found and continue to find encouragement in the discussions within these topics. Yet the overall timbre to these calls to arms leaves me a bit perplexed and flat. Is there room in these manifestos for living an ordinary life? For finding beauty and adventure while playing small? For rising from the rubble of difficulty still weak and uncertain? For discovering magic in scrubbing toilets? For being enabled to live your life, just as it is now, right where it is now, with a sense that here, right here, is where I can find beauty and light. Is there a place for radically living your life as it is now without having to sell everything and live in a tent? Is there a way to actually live the humdrum, everyday, same ole same ole in such a way that imbues it with joy, light, and love? Could we, instead of being called to go do something big and radical so that we won’t “waste our lives”, could we actually live the life we’ve got, the day in and day out, the daily struggles and numbing normalcies with an eye toward beauty? Right here. Right Now.

That’s a bit of magic I could go for!!

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I’m headed somewhere with this…stay tuned. 🙂

Join in the discussion in the comment section if you like.

The first drawing is of the waning flower pots on the front steps of our home. I often need go no further than my front door to find beauty. But I have to be reminded of this. Every Day.

The second drawing is of the Ciener Botanical Gardens here in my small town of Kernersville, NC. Again…a bit of Giverny right here where I live.

Wholehearted Living

AllOutCollage

In Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she talks about Wholehearted Living. I keep reading and re-reading this book as it contains so much that is good for continuing to live wholeheartedly even when life is so very FULL! As we careen to our son’s graduation this Friday, party on Saturday and all end-of-school-year events, my heart is indeed very full.

In an interview with Jonathan Fields, Brene Brown said this word “wholehearted” is from a prayer of confession out of the Book of Common Prayer which reads, “Lord, we have not loved Thee with our whole hearts…”

This is my daily prayer.. knitted into every stitch,  drawn in each line,  collaged with every shape…

“May I love Thee and all that Thou hast made with my whole heart, mind, soul and strength.”

I think it would be cool, in my slash title/description for it to read:

Artist/knitter/mother/wife/teacher/beautycatcher/wholeheartedliver!

Hm…not “liver” as in the part of the body, but, well…you know what I mean! 😉

Stemming the Tide? or Riding the Wave?

StemmingTideLowRes

The above drawing illustrates how I’m experiencing my days lately. The reasons for this are many and varied, not the least of which is just trying to get back up to speed with normal everyday living in the aftermath of major surgery. Life as a pastor’s wife, a mother of three incredibly talented musical kids, and my own enjoyable work as an artist and knit & crochet teacher makes for a lot of variety, but also a very full plate. Oldest daughter is a junior in college, middle son will be graduating from high school in three months and then going off to college, while youngest daughter is in middle school. There are times I’m not sure I’m even stemming the tide, but rather staring blankly at the wall of water coming at me, looming on the horizon. I keep reaching for my knitting needles and my sketchbook. Perhaps they are a life raft, or an anchor, offering some stability in the onslaught of living.

RidingWaveLowRes

This (above) is probably a more realistic view of my life right now. Drawing in my sketchbook, knitting as I go, actually allows me to ride the wave of life without drowning. Sure, I may be holding the sketchbook up above the water as it encroaches up my shoulders, but still…these are the things I can hang onto as wave after wave of “Life” hits. Reframing how my life “looks” is helpful, if not crucial, to enduring the current days. Drawing affords us the ability to re-draw, re-make what our feelings may be screaming at us, and allows us to see the bigger picture, rather than succumb to the momentary drama. Knitting reminds us that it is in the stitch by stitch of everyday living that something beautiful is made. I came across this quote by Vincent Van Gogh on a knitting pattern I recently purchased!! How cool is that?

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

Vincent Van Gogh

I’ll keep on riding the wave, surfboarding on my sketchbook, and paddling with my knitting needles and hook. Might not get me very far, but will assuredly keep me afloat. That’s all I need.:)

Tension

KnittingHands

A continuation of thoughts on dreams & reality

Between dreams and reality lies a tension that is not easily eased. When your reality feels very far from your dreams, the tension can be so great you feel you might snap at any  moment. Your life, even though it may appear to others as a good life, feels pinched, stiff, almost strangling.

When you begin to make steps toward those dreams, even in very small ways, that tension is eased, and perhaps even, when the dream is getting nearer to reality, may seem to go away. But it returns often when the dream you’ve worked hard to make a reality brings with it difficult realities of its own:

*Dream of having a family: Tension lies in the not-so-romantic life of diapers, dishes, laundry, sickness, and relational discord.

*Dream of having your own business: Tension lies in juggling finances, finding a niche and clientele for it, getting others on  board with your dream.

*Dream of being an artist full-time: Tension comes in trying to put food on the table, roof over your head, marketing and advertising without “selling out” as a creative being.

On and on we could go, describing the hard realities of living out our dreams. And if you have many dreams, that seem so different and varied from one another, tension lies in which one to pursue, or whether to go after several at once, or perhaps none at all until time and resources open up to allow for the pursuit of them.

Tension is of utmost importance in knitting. Hold your yarn too tightly, and your knitted fabric ends up pinched, stiff, and might strangle you when you try it on. However, if your tension is too loose, the resulting fabric is uneven and hole-y, so loose it doesn’t hold its shape.  What you’re aiming for when you knit is a tension that allows a knitted fabric (life) you desire for that particular project (dream). If you’re knitting or crocheting amigurumi toys, stuffed animals or dolls, you want a tighter fabric. When knitting a shawl and certain sweaters, you aim for a looser tension so the fabric will breathe and flow. And when working in fair isle, you want a tension “just right” for the color work to lay flat without bunching up or without holes in between the multi-colored designs.

There are two ways (in my humble opinion) to go about adjusting the tension in your knitting (life). One is to change the way you knit (live) altogether. Disciplining oneself to loosen up one’s grip on the yarn and needles, or to hold them more firmly as you knit can go a long way to easing the tension and allowing for a more consistently stable fabric.

The other way to adjust the tension is to change the size needles you knit with. If your knitting is too tight and stiff, increase the needle size for a gentler fabric. Conversely, if your knitting is too loose, go down a needle size or two to cinch up the stitches. You’re not having to change the way you knit (live), so much as changing what you knit with. I leave it to you, to consider which one best suits your needs to ease the tension in your knitting (or in your life ;).

The important thing to remember, and this has been helping me lately, is that tension is a necessary aspect of knitting living! To live in such a way as to even remotely pursue one’s dreams (and to also actively see the dreams that are unfolding under our feet), means that there will always be tension of some sort or other.  The key is recognizing when the tension has become too tight (or too loose) for you, and then  making the necessary adjustments for the tension to be nearly imperceptible in your everyday living. Ha! That last statement has me laughing! Who am I kidding? Let me rephrase that:

…and then making the necessary adjustments for the tension to be more comfortable in your everyday living. That’s better. Maybe not quite it. Well, anyway, I hope you see what I’m attempting to communicate here. There will always be tension in our lives, between our dreams (creative or otherwise) and reality. There will always be a need for adjustments to be able to live in the tension gracefully. Or not so gracefully, as is the case sometimes. 🙂