Archive for 2011

Stick-to-it-iveness…

September 28th, 2011 | Josie

“Consider the postage stamp:  its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.”  ~Josh Billings

 

I’ll be the first to admit that my greatest fault (high atop the list of so many, for aren’t we all our own harshest critic?) is by far my inability to stick to one thing. In no place does this lack of “sticktoitiveness” make itself more apparent than in my crocheting: I see a project and fall madly in love with it, spending hours going over the pattern, plotting the yarn (buying more if/when my stash is deemed lacking in that elusive perfect yarn), and lovingly dedicating myself to the first stitches. I usually continue to adore the pattern until about half-way through a project, at which point I begin to get anxious. I grit my teeth and force myself through several more rows before I begin the search for another project, abandoning my half-done item in the back of the closet for a year or more, by which point I’ve either forgotten the pattern completely or pilfered the hook for use in another project and can’t remember the correct size. Sometimes I figure it out and finish it months and months later, and sometimes I scrap the whole thing as a lost cause (I’ve sacrilegiously thrown far more than my fair share of yarn in the garbage this way in the periodic purging of my castoffs). Regardless, I rarely complete what I set out to do.

My whole life is marked by this inability to finish what I’ve started. My writing, my health, my grand plans… all have suffered due to my seriously deficient persistence. If I can do one thing to better my life, it would be to exercise that particular muscle, strengthen it until, perhaps, I can make it through a whole week’s workout plan, or, *gasp* finish a blanket in less than three years! I have a nagging suspicion that if I could just master the art of finishing what I start, maybe other things would begin to fall in to place. Maybe not… but it’s a place to start!

 

 

Sitting still…

June 7th, 2011 | Josie

“Boredom is like a pitiless zooming in on the epidermis of time.  Every instant is dilated and magnified like the pores of the face.”  ~Charlotte Whitton

I’m not a person that likes to sit still. Unless I’m sleeping, I need to be doing something. I have some sort of project in my pocket most of the time, knitting or crocheting away the moments in the grocery store line (much to the amusement of those around me). Sitting at a restaurant waiting for the food to come, I fold every available scrap of paper into a crane, leaving flocks of origami in my wake.

 

That being said, I’m immensely enamored of the idea of meditation. I think it sounds incredible, stilling your mind and body. Like most infatuations, this, for me, is completely unattainable. Sitting still and doing nothing for any span of time sounds like my own personal version of Hell. I’ve tried, so many times; I sit down, begin the process of quieting my mind… then my nose starts to itch. That traitorous itch, if I attempt to ignore it, will maneuver itself around my body until I feel as if I’m crawling out of my own skin, a feeling that will not dissipate until I finally satisfy the overwhelming need to scratch it. Of course, then my concentration is completely broken, I can’t stop fidgeting. I try to sit still and stop worrying every inch of my skin, and I grow bored. My fingers ache for movement, and I can’t stop thinking about all of the things I should be doing… bills, afghans, vacuuming… literally anything but sitting still. Sometimes I feel as if the thoughts in my head are screaming at me; I mean that quite literally – I sometimes feel the need to get out of my own head because it is simply too LOUD. So, I try to meditate, and the whole vicious cycle starts all over again.

 

I yearn for the ability to stop doing, and to just be.

Potent memory…

May 24th, 2011 | Josie

“He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.”  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I think that, in a time and place where there is a vaccine for everything and medical miracles happen daily, we forget our own mortality. We forget how close death can be, how instantaneous and unexpected. Then, out of no where, something happens to remind us that we can, in fact WILL, someday die.

It has been a week since one of our students died in a tragic car accident. She was just 22, a month away from getting married… and now she is gone. Karin and Sam had been taking lessons at the studio for 9 months, preparing for their big day. Just a few weeks ago, I sat and chatted at length about her hopes for the future: pictures of the house they were in the process of buying, with space enough for her horse to run. All the girls in the studio sat, oohing-and-aahing over the photos of her wedding dress, which she’d had fitted just that week. Tuesday of last week, they’d gone to get their marriage license, excited and happy for the impeding day. Then, mere moments later in the grand scheme, her car crossed the center line and she was gone.  We are all in shock, and I’m sick to my stomach when I think of her family, of Sam, and of all that they’ve lost. I begin to wonder what would happen if I lost Charlie, and I’m at a loss.

We never think about the fragility of life until tragedy strikes. Hope, however, can be gleaned from the wreck of tragedy. When we begin to think about how close, how inevitable our own demise is, we are so much more grateful for the days we have. In the wake of this calamity, I can’t help but think of my own brush with death, not a year gone. I think how, just a month before my own wedding, I wound up hospitalized for pulmonary embolism that, in all truth, should have killed me. I think of all the stress and fear that followed my diagnosis, and of the hell that we went through as I struggled to get better. It was a nightmare and there were days I was terrified, but the wedding still happened, we still got married, and I lived. I am healthy and whole today, married to a man I love, and so much more aware of how short life can be. When I think of how differently things could have turned out, how close we were to tragedy,  I know that I’m beyond lucky, I’m blessed. And I will never, ever forget that.

Waking up from winter…

May 13th, 2011 | Josie

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”  ~George Santayana

 

For me, there has always been a certain joy in the changing of the seasons; something is lost, but something else is gained. This is something that is especially true of spring. As the snow, become ubiquitious in the tedious and cold winter months, melts away to reveal the dead-but-awakening grass, I always feel this deep sense of anticipation. I have spent weeks (many of which involved uncharacteristic swings from snow to sweltering and back), waiting for my world to wake up.

 

Now that it has finally started to feel like spring, complete with torrential rains like today, I feel like things are starting to move again after months of winter hibernation. I feel as if my creativity, the part of myself that is most essentially me, is opening her eyes. She is stretching and yawning amidst a pile of rumpled bedclothes, hitting the snooze for just 10 more minutes. But really, I’m waking up.

Resolutions…

February 6th, 2011 | Josie

“We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity…”  ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Every single year I make resolutions for how this year is going to be “different,” how I am going to better myself in some fashion or another. Without fail, by the second week of January I’m already struggle to meet my own goals, and by the second week of February I’ve given up on them entirely. This year, as a gift to myself, my only resolution was to be happy (and healthy, but I’ll get into that more in a minute). I’m glad to say that so far, I’m succeeding in that endeavor. So, this year instead of giving up my resolve by February 10th, I’ve actually taken this long to find the  motivation to follow through with one of the things that makes me happiest… writing.Needless to say, I haven’t been doing nearly enough writing lately. As my birthday steadily approaches, I realized that it has been almost a whole year since I last bothered to write something in this supposed account of my days, not the apt-est of names for something that you write in only once a year. And what a year to fall behind! Writing has always been one of the best ways that I process information and happenings in my life, and as I just had one of the most eventful years of my life, it probably would have helped to hash it all out in words instead of muddling through it in the maze that are my own thoughts. So, in keeping with this theme of doing things that make me happy, I’m going to start off with a quick recap of everything that has happened in the last year:

  • I don’t think that I ever mentioned before I started dreadfully neglecting my posting that Charlie proposed last December. I knew that it was coming (we’d talked about it quite a lot, and he’d even taken me to approve of the ring), so in a gallant attempt to make the proposal a surprise, he showed up at my work on a random afternoon and popped the question right there in the lobby of the studio… Linda started hooting and hollering her congratulations before I even got around to saying yes. Less than a week after we got engaged, Charlie was laid off from his teaching job… Let’s just say it was a prophetic way to start out our engagement.
  • The first half of my 2010 was wrapped up in planning… my wedding, my life with Charlie, my future, everything. I was promoted to Office Manager in April, bringing with it more responsibility and a welcome move to normal working hours. Nine to five meant that I had more time to see Charlie, and of course, more time to organize and plan our impending nuptials!
  • Even though its been relentlessly proven to me that life cannot be planned and plotted in a chart, I continue to plod along with my plotting. Life, despite all my best intentions, always continues to to move along at its own pace, whether I give my permission or not. In August, a huge wrench was thrown in the delicate workings of my plans: I went to the doctor for persistent chest pain, and wound up being admitted to the hospital with several large blood clots in my lungs. My first thought was obviously that I’m way too young for this. Realizing that my grandfather died in his 50′s from the same thing, it occurred to me to panic. Charlie rushed to Madison from Milwaukee to be by my side, and my mom raced back from vacation in Michigan. Without going into gory and graphic details, I have to admit that this was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. On the other hand, it really opened my eyes to the blessings that I’ve been given: I have a supportive and loving family, amazing friends, and a man who loves me beyond all understanding. From the first shock and all through the slow and often frustrating recovery, I’ve learned to relax a little about everything, to take each day as they come and take nothing for granted. Life is too precious, to amazing to dismiss even a moment as unimportant, and I plan on living life to the fullest.
  • After my sudden illness, we all took a step back and decided to simplify the wedding plans. There were naturally a couple of hitches along the way (including a huge mix up with my dress weeks before the wedding, an unexpectedly huge catering bill, and the misplacing of Charlie’s naturalization papers), but all in all, my wedding was everything I ever dreamed it to be and more. On September 17th I became the proud owner of a new surname; all that matters is the fact I am now married to the love of my life. I cannot even begin to express the magnitude of that feeling, so I won’t even try. Suffice it to say that I am happier than I ever imagined possible.

As you can imagine, after all that excitement, the last few months of 2010 flew by, Now we are solidly into the new year, and I’m a happy lady. I’ll be the first to admit that my life in no way resembles the one I had planned for myself. I may not have been given everything I hoped and dreamed of… but I was definitely given everything I needed……and so much more!