Off to a Beautiful Start

Noro Bouquet

There’s no question that I love, love, love yarn. A complete yarn inventory has been on my “Nice to Do” list for months. Of course, I would rather knot yarn than count it, so I haven’t quite gotten around to figuring what all I have in my stash.

I love getting an idea, — usually around midnight on a holiday weekend — diving into my bins of colorful skeins, and finding exactly what I need just waiting for me there.

I will admit to having way more than I could possibly use in a year… or two.

Even so, there are times when I see a project that I want to make that calls for something that I don’t have handy. Sometimes — like last spring — my vision requires a huge order of 19 different shades that I just can’t find at my local yarn store. More often, I’m wanting a particular fiber or colorway but tell myself that I can make do with something on hand…

I put off a trip to Bliss as long as possible, start 4 other projects, attempt the desired project in a different fiber, and then I finally give in and run across town to get what I’ve wanted all along.

It happened just that way today. Well, I’ve been wanting to make an Tunisian entrelac scarf for months. But today I had to go into my local yarn shop and get three skeins of delicious Noro Taiyo and start my project.

If I didn’t have two of our kids with me, I would have plopped down in a chair and started crocheting on the spot. As it was, I had to go to the grocery store and put everything away before I could even think about giving it a go. I’m so antsy to get started I may just pop.

So, I’m off to wind this lovely bouquet of yarn into balls before I decide that it’s too pretty to use and start obsessing over finding the right yarn for the crocheted version of the Color Affection Shawl that just caught my eye.


Oh, She’s That Kind of Nerd!

Nerdy Crafter

Why, yes! Yes I am that nerd who solved a 25X25 Sudoku to determine the placement of these supposed-to-be-random squares.

But I’m not compulsive enough to pull out the 49 squares I’d already made and attached before I came up with this brilliant scheme.

So not only is it not random, it doesn’t actually follow the Sudoku pattern rules completely.

So, does that make it a Random Pattern?


Self Care Day on the 6th: October 2012

Self Care Day October 6

Oooohhhh! It’s here! Can you feel it?

Well, yes, it’s SCDOT6, but it’s also Autumn!! That means that it’s time to pull out the sweaters, and pile on the (homemade) blankets, and crunch leaves, and carve pumpkins.

It’s also the beginning of the writing of my thesis. Eek.

So, how in the world am I going to fit self care in with homeschooling, thesis writing, pumpkin carving, housekeeping, bill paying and — oh yeah — work? The same way I’ve made sure it makes it into every day of the year. I’m going to plan for it.

Okay. Okay. Before you start groaning, “That’s easy for you to say. You’ve been harping on this self care stuff for over a year!!” How do I actually do it?

I write it down.

I put it on my to do list.

It’s on my agenda every single day.

Like this:

Get To Do List See that little cloud that says, “Essential”?? That’s where it goes. The self care. And I fill it in first — before the work stuff and the household stuff and the “nice to do” stuff and the other people stuff.

My essential daily agenda includes:

  • Candles — I light them before I turn on my computer or make a phone call or chase down a kid.
  • Crochet — It’s my favorite form of meditation and I will knot some yarn every day.
  • Coffee — I’m addicted. It’s true. Many days Ned Andrew delivers coffee to me before I open my eyes. When he doesn’t — mainly because he often leaves the house about 4 hours before I wake up — one of the kids will bring some up when we start our homeschooling routine.
  • Food — Some of y’all may laugh, but I often forget to eat. I rarely have an appetite, but when I go without food I’m hateful. So, here’s my cue. I keep cereal bars within reach just in case I really do forget to eat.
  • Time Outdoors — I live on some of the most gorgeous land in one of the most lovely — weather and otherwise — parts of the world. It’s a sad day when I don’t manage to at least walk outside and take a look around.
  • Writing a Love Note to my Husband — He leaves me one every morning and I return the favor before he comes home that evening. It’s a sweet routine that keeps us focused on all of the connections we share that make this marriage not only work, but flourish.

You may have noticed that I’ve written “Get to Do on or about September 28, 2012” at the top of the page. That’s another key element in my self care. I give myself permission to get what I can get done and then to do some more later. If September 28th turns out to be a really good day to go apple picking, some of those other tasks might get done on September 29 or 30 or even sometime in October.

Another little essential element to my agenda is color. I pick pens that make me happy. I doodle on the page. I make creating my Get to Do list a fun little project. Sometimes I use the same page for a week. Sometimes it gets really cluttered with Accomplishments and I need a fresh sheet in the middle of the day. I allow myself to use it in a way that works for me.

This agenda page is a huge leap from what my calendar looked like 5 years ago. In October 2007, I’d just moved to Nashville and was working as a State Department Director. It sounds way more impressive than “Doodling Facilitator” but I — quite literally — was issued a calendar with 15 minute time increments and told not to write on it without checking with my boss first.

Not. Kidding.

So, to have the freedom and flexibility to write whatever I want on my calendar, to leave the times (and sometimes the days!) off of the tasks completely, and to design my entire day around candles, coffee, and crochet seems a little outrageous even to me.


I suppose I’ll eventually get used to it.

Edna on Keeping Up Appearances


Once she realized that her constant companions all hooked, Edna stopped trying to explain her own quirks.

A Year of Self Care Days on the 6th

Sept 6

So, a year ago when I got the wild hair to start a self care day out of a bit of outrage and indigence, I wasn’t sure what it would accomplish. I mean, seriously, it’s just a date on the calendar, right?

Well, yes. It is.

But it’s kind of become my monthly reminder that I can’t save the world — at least not while I’m buried under a pile of “must do” tasks. I’ve mentioned some changes that have occurred in my routine because of self-care day — crochet, candles, and a reorganized calendar among them — but I would love to know if anyone else has noticed a difference.

Do you incorporate self care into your routine in some way? Now if SCDOT6 in particular has been a positive influence in your life, I’d love, love, love to hear all about it. Honestly, even though you may have picked up the habit from some other source, I’m deeply curious about how the simple act of putting yourself on your own calendar has or hasn’t changed things for you.

Oh, and if you haven’t managed to get yourself on the calendar, may I suggest jotting down an item or two to get you started? Pick a day — any day, though I’m fond of the 6th — and set a time to do something just for you.

I double dog dare you!

You might just find yourself with your feet in a pedi-spa, drinking something frozen, and wondering why you didn’t do this before.




May’s Self Care Day on the 6th

May 6

Well, here we are again! It’s the 6th and time for another Self Care Day on the 6th (SCDOT6). With each passing month, I’m loving this routine more and more. While folks sometimes complain about being “stuck in a rut”, there’s something about routine and ritual  that make something more likely to happen and that can actually deepen the experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating you avoid trying anything new! I’m simply suggesting that if you find things that work well to remind you to do your self-exams, make those doctors appointments, schedule your spa day, buy some yarn, take a nap, and otherwise nurture yourself, stick to them. New new new can be exhilarating, sure, but when we are talking self care, on some level, we are talking comfort.

Of course, if you don’t have a self care routine then the first time you try one out, it may not feel comfortable at all. You may feel guilty or unsure or silly or thrilled or hesitant. Pay attention to those feelings and spend a little time thinking about where they originated.

What are you feeling?

Are there any words that come with that feeling?

Are you hearing someone else’s voice telling you what you should be doing instead?

Whose voice is it?

How do you respond when you hear this message?

Can you change that response  now that you are actually noticing the conversation you’re having?

What is your new response?

Now, how do you feel?

My self care routine includes reminders to light a candle, put on music, eat (yes, I have to remind myself to eat!), and to go outside. I actually write these things alongside the other items — homeschool lessons, contract items, bills to pay, grad school assignments, appointments, invoices to create — on my “Get To Do” list that I create by hand, on paper, each day. The reality is that lighting a candle is just as important to me as sending that invoice. Actually, it is probably more important. I can hire someone to create an invoice. I can’t outsource my own well being.

Like anything new, self care — and learning to feel great about self care — may take some practice. I’ve heard that it takes 10,000 hours to become a world-class master of a skill. So, if you work an hour of self care into your day, you should have this thing perfected by late in 2039. In the meantime, keep practicing those routines!


April’s Self Care Day on the 6th

April 6

As I sat here thinking about self care in preparation for this Self Care Day on the 6th (SCDOT6) post, I began to think about how pervasive the lack of it is. Sure, there are folks who are really good at it, but most of us just aren’t. We make attempts from time to time — you know, on those days you can almost justify being nice to yourself. Birthdays anyone? — but even feel a little guilty for that.

It’s so bad that I know folks who will make fun stuff sound like a chore just so that they don’t have to feel selfish for enjoying something.

Quote“Oh, how I would love to help you feed the homeless tomorrow but I just must <sigh> take Mother to the movies. She’s been hounding me for weeks and I would rather die <sigh> than go, but well… <back of hand placed on forehead> you know Mother.”

No. What I know is that you love to go to the movies and would rather be there than anywhere, but you’ve somehow bought into the “if it ain’t painful, it ain’t valuable” value system that pervades our planet.

Well, enough is enough. Why spend so much energy justifying something we want to do with all of this drama? It’s like baking a cake and icing it with toothpaste. “See there. It isn’t a cake. It’s a decay preventive dentifrice!”

I call bull.

So, what is it that you are wanting to do — or actually doing — but aren’t allowing yourself to enjoy?



I love to crochet. I love yarn. I love making blankets and pillows and scarves and wraps. Love it.

For years I’ve made objects and given them away because, well, if you’re making something for someone else it has value. It’s on purpose! It’s necessary! It’s — wait for it — work! And, boy have I worked at crochet. My handmade dodads are all over the country, and maybe the world. I never charge for them (Gasp! Pay me for this little handcrafted nothing? What a crazy notion!) and I barely acknowledge the gratitude expressed by the recipient. You can’t steal my suffering by liking the product of it!

So, I did something massively radical. When I started my latest project, rather than identifying someone in desperate need of a crocheted item or justifying it as a birthday/Mother’s Day/Groundhog Day gift, I decided to make something for my own studio. Actually, I’m making multiple items. It’s a whole collection of crocheted goodness. I still get a little shaky just thinking about it, but it’s pretty amazing stuff. I’ve decided, at the very least, to make an afghan and two pillows. I may make a room-full of items before I’m finished. I’m using very intricate patterns with tedious stitches that take a lot of concentration. I’m using 9 colors of yarn.  It’s taking lots of time and I’m obsessed with working on the pieces.

Crochet is absolutely part of my self care — carrying around my gorgeous basket of yarn, adding stitches when I get (or take or make) moments through the day — and it’s my intention to allow that to be enough. Previously I’ve justified the expense and time by pointing to the utility of the product. My goal is to enjoy the act of creation, the selection of colors, the feel of the yarn, the rhythm of the stitches as an end unto themselves.

So, what are you sighing and gnashing about that you actually, secretly enjoy? Could you enjoy it more if you allowed yourself to acknowledge how much you love doing it?

Beginning Crocheted Studio Set

Happy Quote: Leader by Example


QuoteAccept that as you create your right life, you’ll become a leader automatically; not because you’ll want others to follow your rules, but because they’ll want to follow your example.

–Martha Beck

Pausing to Refill

Refiling My Cup -- Gina Lynette

As I’ve been thinking a whole lot this week about Joyce Rupp’s quote about pouring from an empty cup, I’ve been paying special attention to things that refill mine.

One thing that really helps is when I give myself permission to be a bit of a slacker. I don’t mean, give up on life. But as a driven, hyper-motivated, constantly-on-the-go someone, turning down the volume is sometimes desperately needed.

While I’m a pretty happy camper for the most part, it’s been a tough fall and winter for me in some ways — especially physically — and I started to really think about why. It isn’t a new revelation, but I’ve been using way more energy than I have available to me at a sustainable level. I needed to do some spring cleaning of tasks and to dos in light of the reality that my world has shifted to include two little people in my day who were previously off site, I’ve added a wonderful-yet-time-and-talent-intense contract to my schedule, I’m still in grad school, and I still want to include my coaching, art, and writing in my regular routine.

I know that as I add new elements into my day, it’s a great idea to paused to say, “Okay… that’s new and I want it here. Do I have room for it with everything else or do I need to do some clearing somewhere?” The truth is that those “You Can Do It All” siren calls are still pretty enticing. So, it always kind of takes me by surprise when I sit up and realize, “Hey! Wait! I’m worn out and cranky and have lost control of my calendar again!”

Next week is finals week. This means I have 5 papers to write as soon as I return from helping to facilitate an out-of-town conference this weekend. It’s going to be a whole lot of intense, time-limited, on-deadline work.

So, today? Today I gave myself permission to pause and refill my cup. You know, take a deep breath. Pour some coffee. Sit still. Participate in a live video summit that I didn’t think I had time to  attend.

And you know what happened? This little seed that I’ve been precontemplating for about 4 years just burst out of that conversation. I shared my idea, in public, with the actual person whose writing inspired it. You see, I was afraid to allow myself to want to pursue this idea because of fears of stepping on her toes, stealing her ideas, or infringing on her copyrights.

And you want to know what happened?

She said, and I quote, “Go for it!” Right there! Live!

I’m so excited that my teeth are buzzing. I’m hoping to keep this excitement and motivation flowing as I focus on this conference and finals week… but watch this space. I’m going to make room on my calendar for launching an idea that’s been percolating for years.

Talk about a full cup! It’s overflowing today!

How about you? What are you doing to refill your cup? Or, perhaps, the question should be, “What are you going to pause doing in order to refill your cup?”

Note: The lovely cup in the image was made by the incredibly talented and supremely delightful Melodie Grace. It’s my very, very, very favorite cup in the whole wide world.

Is Love Available Even Here?

Endless Traffic

I first heard Mark Silver ask this question and I believe it to be a wise approach to moment-by-moment living.

Sometimes we don’t even have to ask the question. The love is obvious. It’s in those moments that we are in our bliss and sink into the happiness that is connection.

At other times, we have to work a bit to find it. It may be disguised as fear or some other harder-to-like emotion. The challenge is to ask in those moments of fear or panic or irritation or anger, “Is love available even here?” The sweet reward is discovering that peace and ease and gentleness are available within even those less-than-idyllic moments.

But here’s the catch. In order to get into this space — this love-seeking-in-every-moment groove — you have to actually want to be loving. That old “kill ’em with kindness” trick of pretending to be loving while secretly plotting their demise ain’t gonna get you there. This adjustment of intention sometimes takes work, but the rewards are amazingly bountiful.

You see, though we think of love as something Out There that we have to go find or choose to share with someone else, fact is that it’s not limited to a two-person exchange made popular by greeting card companies. It’s what I harp about on Self Care Day on the 6th (SCDot6) and something that you’ve, no doubt, heard a bazillion times. In case you’ve missed this particular missive, I’ll spell it out here:

You can’t love anyone else until you love yourself.

There. I said it. My harping on you to be good to yourself is really my selfish ploy to get you to love yourself so that, eventually, you have the space in your heart to love me. Well, me and anyone else you happen to encounter.

See that picture at the top of this here post? That was taken toward the end of a very long car trip. We thought we were 3 hours from home after making it all the way from the Berkshires to the Smokeys. That is, until the interstate was completely shut down and we were forced onto a little side road. It took us over four hours to go about 20 miles… meaning we still had three hours of travel left an hour after we’d hoped to be home.

We are pretty happy travelers for the most part, but this jam was enough to try even our well-honed patience. As the sun set, I started taking pictures to post on facebook to express our complete frustration at this endless sit-and-wait situation. I’d like to say that I remembered to ask, “Is love available even here?” and that suddenly the clouds parted and the traffic magically cleared and I was happily singing along to Billy Joel in no time. But, no. It wasn’t exactly like that.

I did, however, remember to look over at my sweetie and be grateful that I was in the car with someone I actually like. And then this caught my eye:

Love. Here.

I was so taken with the pretty sky and sun and clouds and tree that, for a moment, I forgot how tired and irritated and desperate-to-be-home-already I was a moment before.The 20-mile line of traffic stopped being my focal point and there it was.



I could catalog a million moments when love was right there in spite of the surrounding scenery. Sometimes the only love to be readily found in a particularly hairy event is the scenery. The reality, though, is that love is available even here.

P.S. I got an email asking whether this “seeking love in each moment” practice means we have to love our abusers. I’m not sure I completely understand how we got from asking whether there is love available to us all the way to wondering if I’m advocating that we have to love someone who is hurting us, but I’ll play.

On one level, loving everything in its right space is a good thing. I can love even a really, really mean someone in a, “Gee, I can empathize that they are having a rough time” kind of way. But that doesn’t mean I have to spend my energy allowing them to beat me up. Some folks would call this version of love “agape” from the Greek.

On another level, if I’m asking the question, “Is love available even here?” I am probably looking for a way to feel authentic and connected and, possibly, in relationship with myself, my source, or another being. That’s where the scenery might have to come into play.

The night my life was at the greatest risk the only words that would come to my head were, “Tell me everything will be okay.” I don’t know who was supposed to tell me this, but wanting to know it was what kept me centered and focused until the incident passed. “I’ve got to know I’m going to survive this.” may not sound like, “Is love available even here?”  but they are closely related.

After the attacker left the room and I caught my breath, seeking something to calm my shaking hands, I grabbed the magazine on the table next to me and opened it to a random page. In bold letters in the middle of the page was the quote from Julian of Norwich that has since become my constant companion.


All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

— Julian of Norwich


A day or two later, I was at a conference and someone I sort of knew but wasn’t particularly close to said, “I thought you’d like this,” and handed me a printout of a short version of Julian of Norwich’s biography. And then I walked in to a gift shop later that weekend and saw a candle holder with the quote on it. I, not shockingly, bought it on the spot.

So, my question was answered — three times — and I took that loving assurance to mean that things would work out fine. And they did. And they continue to do so.

So, was the love in that moment from my abuser? Not really.

But was love available even there? I sure do believe it was.

And is.

Julia and the Bluebird

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