Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Make That Change

Quoting from an old Michael Jackson favorite of mine:

"I'm looking at the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
No message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place . . .
Better look at yourself and make that . . . CHANGE."

I've been making a lot of changes this year - mainly in the healthy eating and exercise department. And for once, I'm sticking to that change, trying to make it a permanent part of a healthier me.

But there's another major change happening - my job. I won't get TOO specific but even in this bad economy, sometimes a change is necessary and hopefully for the better. I'm moving to a different company, doing a less customer service and more sales-oriented position. I really MISSED the sales aspect. Doing business-to-business sales is a real joy to me, and so I've found hopefully a good opportunity to work with a sales team where I'll have a more active role.

What amazes me, with this change like no other, is so many people have come up to me and admitted their secret unhappiness with their jobs, but their fear of leaving and/or losing their jobs. What I'm saying is - don't let the economy freak you out to the point where you get real anxiety. We've been through tough economies before, and we will get through this one too. And even in tough times, there are opportunities out there . . . even for middle aged folks like me . . . it's all in matching your skills with companies that need your skills. I ALWAYS subscribe to Careerbuilder and Monster just to keep tabs on what is happening in industries that I am interested in. It's important to keep your finger on the pulse of your career field. Most of all believe in YOURSELF.

Instead of ringing your hands and muttering, "Gosh, I guess I'm lucky to have a job." Try substituting a new affirmation, "I am a productive, valuable worker and my job security lies not with any one company but in me." Does that sound too polyanic?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All Shawled Out?

After mentioning last week that I've been casting on new stuff - I'm happy to say that I'm ALMOST FINISHED with the first Prayer Shawl Knitalong project called the LaLa Shawl. And just in time, too, because I've knit so many shawls in a row that I'm actually getting tired of shawls. Dare I say it? Yes, bored and tired of knitting shawls. That is a FIRST. But I'm sure if I give myself a shawl reprieve for just a little while, that my love of their kind will return without fail.

So my next cast on may be socks. I've been thinking about the ever-popular Monkey Socks, which I've never made before. Having recently purchased the Cookie A Sock Innovations book, I'm in a Cookie A sock mood, but it seems only logical to first try the Monkey Socks that inspired her popularity in the knitting community. Not sure which yarn I'll use yet, but I'm thinking the lovely Socks that Rock sock yarn that Lynn (Colorjoy) gave me in her contest a few months back. The yarn that I won is the one on the far left, called County Clare. The only thing is, that sock yarn is pretty heavy weight for that pattern, so I may make just plain socks out of the yarn, not sure, but I'm in the mood for the spring greens and cheery turquoise that makes up that County Clare sock yarn.

And I've been hankering to do - BELIEVE IT OR NOT - a spring sweater. Yep, a spring sweater. Even though I'd sworn off sweaters a few months ago, after experiencing a couple of sweater disasters in the gauge department, I've nevertheless decided that I really do want to start one. Not sure which one. My top pick right now is the Cables & Lace Cardigan from the May 2009 issue of Creative Knitting.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

No Choice Approach to Fitness

Several years ago, when I was at a Weight Watchers meeting, and I absolutely HATED exercise at the time, I asked a successful Lifetime member how she stayed so fit. Not surprisingly, she answered, "Exercise - it's really critical to losing weight, toning up, and increasing your metabolism."

Not wanting to hear that answer, I whined, "But how can you STAND it? I hate exercise. I don't wanna do it."

She smiled and said, "That's the thing, I don't give myself that choice. It's like brushing your teeth in the morning. A three year old will say they don't wanna do it, but a grown up will realize that it's no choice. You do it. It's something you do to take care of your body."

That was one of the biggest eye-opening moments and is what I'm finally applying the "No choice" approach to my own fitness life. I'm still not an athlete. But I do what I can do every single day, omitting the "should I?" "shouldn't I?" question. I don't give myself an option - it's a MUST DO.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Clearing the Decks - and Casting On With Abandon

You may have noticed that I got rid of the old half-finished and going nowhere fast projects that used to be listed in my side bar. Frankly, my whole life has felt dull, boring, stressful and not much fun recently. So I decided to clear the decks, figurately speaking, of all the old junk that was boring me, including in my knitting life.

When I was a younger woman, I was a total bookworm and would finish reading any book I started, no matter how boring. I'd trudge through to the end regardless. When I hit around mid-thirties my reading philosophy changed so that if I didn't love the book, I put it down, gave it away and didn't read it if it no longer interested me. Well, I'm applying the same philosophy to my knitting life. If I am not passionate and excited about the project anymore, I'm shelving it, frogging it or abandoning it with absolutely no regret.

And I'm casting on . . . several things actually. If any of these new projects take hold and interest me, then I will continue with them. If not, then release and turn my attention to something better.

There are false starts, like yesterday, when I tried to cast on for a La La Prayer Shawl and paired it with varigated yarn that is pretty, but tends to obscure and overpower the uncomplicated and basic nature of the shawl design. So I'm going to start over today with a solid color. False starts are fine too, they give us a chance to try something out, to gather information - and then to make another choice if a better idea is found.

Speaking of Casting On, have you listened to the Cast On podcast by Brenda Dayne lately? In Episode 75, called Epiphany, she talks about her new philsophy of being much more light-hearted, ready to take risks and be WRONG. To, in effect, play more, and worry less about making a mistake in her knitting and in her life in general. I'm feeling much the same thing lately. And by the way, Brenda's podcasts are really refreshing and wonderful to listen to. So if you haven't heard her ever . . . or lately, have your own little Epiphany by going over there to her website and listening to some of her latest musings. It's really doing my heart good.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Prayer Shawl Donations

My Mom, my Grandmother and I have all been inspired to make prayer shawls lately. Here are three that Grandma has made and contributed to the charity cause. Grandma is by FAR the most productive knitter of the three of us.

The almond colored one is a Deborah Bliss yarn in her Serenity yarn line. The purple ones uses yarn stash and scraps. The red multi-colored one is from a yarn line called Rainbow Classic - it's acrylic yarn that comes in a big huge skein for $9.99 at Joanne's.

My Mom made this lovely Easy Triangular shawl that is a free pattern from the Lion Brand website. Hers is made in Deborah Norville's Serenity line of yarn in the Forest Green colorway.

The one I finished last week is the Old Shale shawl made from JT Brett's Marble line in a bright spring colorway called "Wildflowers" that I mentioned previously. I LOVE this yarn because it comes in huge varigated balls of yarn - nearly 400 yards for $12 - you can't beat that. The colorways are gorgeous. This wrap uses a very simple pattern that I was given by WineDivaDesigns. Here is the stitch pattern for anyone interested.

For mine (I used a bulky yarn and size 11 or 13 needles):
Cast on 72
Purl two rows
Row 1: knit
Row 2: purl
Row 3: K2tog (3 times), YO, K1 (6 times), K2tog (6 times), YO, K1 (6 times), K2tog (6 times), YO, K1 (6 times), K2tog (6 times), YO, K1 (6 times), K2tog (3 times)
Row 4: knit
Continue until you are almost out of yarn, ending with a Row 2. Purl two more rows and cast off loosely. Weave in ends.

This makes a very easy shawl to knit up in a hurry and is fairly mindless. The pattern it produces makes a scallop design. We like to use acrylic yarn so that they are inexpensive to make, yet washable.

By the way, if you are interested in making Prayer Shawls at all, there is a very active and friendly Prayer Shawl group over on Ravelry. We all kind of keep each other inspired by stories of what we are making, sharing patterns and tips, as well as a few really moving stories about those who have received the shawls. You don't often get to actually meet the recipients of the shawls, but knowing they are going to people in crisis makes my normal life seem easier somehow.

One last thing, here is an article called "Blanketing People With God's Healing Love" that describes how prayer shawls have been used by the American Red Cross to bring comfort to those in crisis.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Inner Confusipation

Have you ever had it - a strange feeling of anticipation mixed with unease, confusion - a fussy feeling of not being able to rest and wanting to buzz around and get things ready in anticipation of a big change? But you're not quite sure what it is? And you're excited, nervous, confused and enthused all at the same time? I guess I'll call it . . . Confusipation?

That's what I'm feeling right now. It's very strange. And very exhilerating all at the same time. I'm feeling drawn to be busy on the outside, but still and waiting on the inside. I'm being drawn to prayer and meditate more - to read books like Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo.

Even in my knitting life, I feel bouncy and restless. Wanting to start a bunch of new projects, but also feeling a need to finish some stuff that have been in the works for a while. The last two days, I've felt an INTENSE need to finish this Feather and Fan prayer shawl I started nearly two months ago. It's growing (now 37" long - and the simplicity of the stitch pattern is creating a soothing rhythm that I hope will create serenity and healing for the woman whom I making it for.

And I'm making this shawl for a specific person whose husband was in a bad accident and needs many thoughts and prayers, for the whole family's physical, financial and emotional healing.

Engaging my thoughts in wishing the best for another person's healing is helping me wait with quiet confusapation for whatever is about to happen in my own life.