Saturday, May 29, 2010

Morning Has Broken?

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Morning Has Broken
As Sung by Cat Stevens
lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon

Guess what? Things may be looking up for us. Bob finally got a job!!! Yay!!!

We are thrilled to say the least.

Thanks to all who have been sending us well wishes and heartfelt prayers for him to find a job. Whew, what a relief.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Get Thee to a Nunnery

The phrase, "Get Thee to a Nunnery" was first coined by Shakespeare in Hamlet. When Hamlet laments to Ophelia that she should "get thee to a nunnery", he is expressing pent-up anger towards his mother, who he feels has been unfaithful and incestuous when she married his uncle. At the beginning of the play itself, we see a brooding Hamlet who seems almost more upset by his mother's marriage than by his father's death. He speaks of it with such bitter disgust: "She married, O, most wicked speed, to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets!" (I.ii.156-7) and is so upset with his mother that he pronounces a curse on ALL women, not just her: "Frailty, thy name is woman!" (I.ii.147). So, that curse includes Ophelia, and from that point on, he avoids her.

But the reason for ME using it here is the opposite - I occasionally seek OUT a monastery or "nunnery" for the purposes of filling my spiritual hunger and my longing for inner peace. Well, once again, last weekend, I had the opportunity to get myself to a nunnery and I can't recommend it enough. St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas is simply phenomenal therapy for me and repairs my soul like no other balm that exists on earth. Just spending a few hours in the rolling hills of the Benedictine Monastery reminds me of who I am, or want to be, my best self - in touch with the divine in me, and in others.

I haven't been there since September 2009, but I went there to meditate and to pray - to mostly seek out the Silence. Wow is that ever a powerful place, and not only are wonderful people already living and working there, but those who visit are very interesting inner adventurers.

At my request, I was able to lodge in my favorite Room Number 8. Ah!!! Back again. It's simple. It's stripped down of TV, radio, computer, all e-media. There's just a small bed, a small dresser, small desk, a comfy meditation chair, and that's it - a quiet room alone, with a beautiful view of the rolling hills of Missouri.

It was a strange, confusing journey there this time - because unknown to me, all the bridges leading to it on the Missouri side were disabled for repair. Ah hem. Nope I am not kidding. Symbolic, isn't it? I need repair, all the roads leading there are down - I need to forge a new route. Wow. But I did. I found it. Finally. And it meant all the more to me once I finally arrived.

Ah - peace at last, I found you. And just in time, too, because I carry this place with me, and mentally go there whenever I am feeling at my wit's end, which is all too often lately.

Thank you God for giving me a place to find you, because sometimes (like Hamlet) I really lose sight of all that is good.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Graduate

I have been feeling wistful all last week - and now this week even more so. My only child graduated high school last night.

We've had lots of preparations and parties - and misty eyes.

Simply can't believe my baby and many of her friends who I've known so well throughout the years are graduating now. Time has passed in a flash. A big threshhold has been crossed.

I'm so filled with pride and pain and expectation - all at the same time. And anxiety. I won't lie about that. Much of everything.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day Weekend Outing with My Mom

I've always felt my Mom was beautiful - inside and out. What's funny is, she's camera shy, so it's not easy capturing a photo of her. But at any rate, she always keeps up with the times and looks her very best. She loves beauty books, fashion magazines, and she and Emily are the Fashionistas in our family.

So when I heard that the Today show beauty expert, Charla Krupp, was coming to Kansas City to celebrate Mother's Day with her Mother-in-law and doing a public appearance through Rainy Day Books and Artichoke Gallery, I decided to take my Mom over to soak up some fashion and beauty tips as she featured her latest book called HOW TO NEVER LOOK FAT AGAIN. She has an ealier book also called, HOW NOT TO LOOK OLD.

We had a fantastic time. Let me say that Charla Krupp looks fabulous. I don't know how old she is, but she looks 10X better in person than on her book covers. She's short like me (in fact she's only 5'0" tall) - but she appears much taller because she knows how to dress to look longer and leaner with heels - in both boots and shoes. She mentioned that since writing the book, she's lost weight and does a fitness routine - so she's tiny. Whatever she's doing, it's working.

She's good at teaching women "of a certain age" how to dress to make the maximum impact and look their very best in spite of figure flaws. She brought along a rack of clothes she'd selected from a high-end boutique across the street, and she showed us what items she'd put together to counteract various body problems. Much of it is common sense stuff that we've all read in beauty and fashion magazines for years - stuff like, don't wear oversized, boxy clothes - wear dark solid colors on areas you want to minimize. Buy a good bra that holds you UP.

She's a big advocate for foundation garments - or "body shapers" I think she calls them. Spanx underwear and that kind of thing. For jeans, she suggests DARK jeans with no designs, logos or other attention-getting geegaws - she says these design features only make your butt and gut look LARGER. The pockets should be flat and plain - her favorite jeans are "Not Your Daughter's Jeans" which can be found at Dillards, Macy's, Nordstrom's.

She encourages women to wear one-piece dresses because that way, it's simplier and easier to coordinate rather than having to put together several separate pieces - especially if your problem area is your mid-section. With a dress, there is no break at all in the center to attract your eye, a dress will immediately give your shape a sleeker line through the middle. Best of all, you don't have to worry about what goes with it or what to tuck or not tuck.

If you are wearing separates, make it an a-line skirt or pant in a dark color. Wear heels for all boots and sandals. Have a pair of pretty flats to slip into in case your feet start hurting. Wear attractive jackets, but not huge, boxy ones or a matching suit.

For swimsuits - wear one piece suits that are flattering as possible - with support built into the suit. Apply self-tanning lotion and shave well so that your body looks smooth. Buy a really GREAT coverup and cute sandals, because you will be wearing the cover-up over it more than you will be swimming. Pretty accessories will boost your confidence.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Is Frugality the New "Normal"

I was reading this article today about consumer reaction to the supposedly improving recession. The upshot is that even though the U.S. economy is improving in very small measures, and consumer spending has recently gone up a bit, that the average American still is holding onto a much more guarded attitude toward consumerism.

Many researchers agree that they may continue to save more, spend less, and be more cautious about impulse purchases. They are gravitating towards smaller, more affordable houses and they say that even if their income rises again in light of a brighter economy, they will still remain careful about jumping into major purchases. They are either cutting back, or reevaluating, what they consider necessary in their budget. Things that were previously taken for granted, such as premium cable stations and so forth, are often being cut - and new clothing and other expenditures may be put off or delayed instead of being purchased impulsively.

One 60 year old lady who was quoted in the article says, "I don't think it will ever get back to where it was before," she says of her nest egg. "I won't spend money the way I used to."

For those of us at the tail end of the Baby Boom generation - those of us approaching or in our 50's - it's too early for us to retire - and yet things are changing so rapidly and permanently, that it feels as if we need to shift our whole working/lifestyle way of thinking and everything is on the table for reconsideration. Something in my mind/heart and spirit has fundamentally shifted.

I know that this particular recession has hit us here in my family. Bob has been laid off for 6 months now - and although we've been through this before, somehow this time it feels different. Once he finally gets another job - we will look at our future with more caution - less relief, and more strategizing.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

I'm Coming Unraveled

This is the second sleeve of my oatmeal sweater. You know, I was nearly finished with this second sleeve but I became very unhappy with the increases on the sleeve, they looked sloppy and uneven with the other one. So I ripped and ripped and finally got so frustrated that I started CUTTING the sleeve, yes cutting with scissors. Now I've ripped way past the mistake - but my yarn is a mess from the cutting and the whole sleeve is probably going to go down and get thrown away out of my own impatience.

I started to just throw this sleeve away but decided to photograph it to remind myself that this sleeve is somehow reflective of my general frustration with my life right now. Bob is still out of work - my frustration and worry and anxiety is mounting. I'm getting a bit panicky with the economy being so bad. The bad feels like it won't lift.

I know things will turn around, but right now, I don't see it.

Maybe I'll do what my Grandma used to tell me when I became overly frustrated - put it down, Chelle, walk away, and come back when you feel better.

Faulty Assumptions

I haven't been knitting as much this week as usual - because I had a business trip that was pretty intense all week and I didn't get the usual time in between and at night to knit. Dang!

At any rate, one thing I did finish was another Storm Cloud Shawlette - this one in Dream in Color "Bold" - a very striking variegated blue. This is the least favorite one I've done so far, mainly because it is a bit too small for my liking - it was done on size 8s and I only did one single strand of sock yarn. In the future, if I were just using one strand of sock, I'd use a 9 needle rather than an 8 - because everyone I know who has used an 8 ends up saying their shawl is too small.

But one person over on Ravelry wrote to me because she was frustrated with not understanding the pattern. She thought she only increased one stitch per row. So it occurred to me that other people who aren't watching other knitters make this shawl might be a bit confused.

On the increase rows, instead of just increasing 1 stitch on each row - on that increase row, you do yarnovers between each “knit” stitch - and those STAY on the needle in the subsequent row after Rows 2, 4, 10, 20, 38 and 72. So each time you hit one of those critical rows you are DOUBLING your stitches. But you are only doing that for critical rows - otherwise you’d end up increasing and having way too many stitches on your needle before you knew it.

I think another confusing thing is that what the designer is calling the INCREASE row, is actually just where you are knitting in the stitches you actually added as yarnovers on the row before. This sounds confusing but really isn’t. It’s the simplest thing in the world once you get it.

Isn't that true with life in general, we often mess up when we have something stuck in our minds, a faulty assumption that blinds us to seeing what is really there. This knitter who wrote me assumed that you only knit one extra stitch in the whole row - and she "read" the pattern with that belief in mind. Then when I pointed out her mistaken assumption - it was like a light suddenly came on - Eureka! and the pattern became blindingly obvious and simple.

Throughout our lives, because we develop life experiences, we start lodging many perceptions and assumptions - it is what my boss calls "head trash." Much of the time, those assumptions act as a shortcut to understanding life and are helpful in streamlining our learning, but sometimes the assumptions get in our way and create a mental block that we have to jump past or clear away in order to get a true understanding.

Now I did something different on this last shawl with the border that I kind of like, instead of continuing to do elongated stitches - on the border row, I just knit 10 solid rows of plain garter stitch - it made a more solid border - and instead of creating a ruffle, it just added a more solid border, which might be good if you're wanting that look, especially when you have really stretchy yarn. Just an idea!

So sometimes we need to look at things afresh - and create new ways of doing things - sometimes NOT following the pattern or the tried and true way is a good creative change.