Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Going Back to the Beginning ... Sorta

When I think back to when the decline of knitting started to take place my mind goes to December 2010-ish.  I had just finished my sock yarn blanket and decided I wanted to explore the possibility of going to law school.  Once I committed to the law school thing LSAT prep and applying to law school took over my life.  Then I started training for my first race.  Though I was still knitting, somehow knitting got pushed into the background of my life.  That is until I realized in November 2011 that I had committed to making my mom a sock yarn blanket for her bday in 2012.  That's when I really picked up needles again.

By the time I was finished with mom's blanket, I was well intrenched into my responsibilities at Chick Lit Central and running, PLUS quite honestly the sock yarn blanket really burned me out.  Sure, I made a few pairs of socks and a few hundred Molly scarves, but I just couldn't seem to commit to a "big" project again and I was getting bored with with the little projects I had taken on.  Additionally, it was also around this time I decided to move.  Since I had been at my place for sometime and acquired more crap than I had when I first got there I resolved that before I moved I would de-crapify my home.  This was a task I knew would take quite a bit of time... and it did!  Hours upon hours, days upon days I spent going through my stuff making difficult decisions as to whether or not things should stay or go.  This also meant getting rid of some knitting related items including buttons, books and all the little balls of yarn that were meant for my sock yarn blanket.  All those things and more were GONE! GONE! and... GONE!  Though I hadn't gotten rid of all the clutter, but a good part of it was gone.  Crap that I had carried around with me for too many years was no longer part of my life.

Have to admit... It was such a nice feeling!

Before I moved, I did recon on the various knitting groups in the area.  Given the vast ground the city covered I knew there would be several to choose from.  Ideally, I wanted to stay local, but wasn't opposed to traveling some for the "right" group.  Immediately I found two groups.  One that was within walking distance and another that required me to take transportation to.  Of course, my preference between the two was the one I had to travel to, but that was okay.  That's not what was bothering me about knitting groups.  What bothered me was the fact that I still didn't feel inspired to knit anything.  What's the point in going to a knitting group if you're not working on anything, right?!  This feeling would stick withe me until I attended Stitches Midwest in August.  

Though I didn't spend as much on yarn as I have in years past, I did walk away that day with two hanks of sock yarn.  The first was every so soft to the touch navy blue and red sock yarn from a dyer called Fresh from the Caldron and a UBER BRIGHT colorway from KnittyandColor.  I affectionately call the
KnittyandColor yarn "the ketchup and mustard" yarn because that is the first thing I though of when I saw the sample sock it was used in.  Furthermore, I really liked the pattern used for the sample sock called, "Burning Rings of Fire" by Kirsten Kapur, which just happened to be a free pattern.  SOLD!  Just a day or so later I started a new pair of socks!

Though the socks took me longer to make than they have in the past (didn't work on them as frequently as I usually work on socks), it was nice to have a project to work on at knit group, and when I was out and about.  By the end of the second sock they traveled with me almost everywhere.  I was hell bent on getting them done.  Once I was finished, I felt lost once again.  However, this time I was more anxious to find a new project.  After looking around at patterns on Raverly and not finding anything I wanted to make I remembered a scarf I had seen a sample of at Stitches and pulled up the picture of it so I
"Cocoon Me" by Rose Beck.
could find the pattern at a later.  This time, the pattern was one I'd have to pay for.  Seeing that I got burned the last time I paid for a scarf pattern I was reluctant to pay for another one.  However, I kept staring at it and couldn't ignore it so I took a chance and bought the pattern.  First let me say, this pattern includes instructions on how to make a cowl, infinity scarf and shawlette - DEFINITELY worth the money you pay for it.

I haven't started the infinity scarf yet.  Though I have enough yarn for it in my stash, I am thinking this beautiful design deserves new yarn.

Until I got to this point in this blog post I wasn't sure where I was going with all of the above.  I didn't feel like it had a point to it beyond the fact that it appears I've caught the knitting bug once again.  Then, as I thought about that statement I realized that I was returning back to something I truly love.  To be honest, I wasn't sure how into knitting I was anymore until recently.  How much I truly enjoy it; how much I truly love, it.  For awhile I thought maybe it was gonna be one of those things I use to do, but had moved on from... but it appears isn't that case.  I guess that is true of anything in our lives.  Sometime we have to walk away from things we love to realize how much we truly love them.  Or, sometimes we walk away and realize we didn't love them as much as we thought we had.  Guess it falls into one of those reason, season or lifetime type of scenarios.  Furthermore, I think all this rambling has made me realize that part of the reason I took a break from knitting was that after my sock yarn blanket project I needed a new knitting challenge, however there where so many other challenges going on in other parts of my life that I couldn't manage yet another one and had to give something up.  Now that things appear to be settling down more in other areas of my life I can now focus more on attacking more challenging knitting patterns.  Though not super-duper technically challenging, "Cocoon Me" does have a high stitch count and adequate difficulty which I'm sure will become nothing once I dive into it.  Lastly, knitting is something that genuinely makes me happy.  It always has, and apparently always will. And, it it is one of my top priorities in life to surround myself with the things that make me happy.

Happy Knitting to all!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Looking Forward

For several months now, I've been writing about moving forward.  In someways I've been writing about this topic on my blog, but when I say I've been writing about moving forward I think more about the book I'm writing.  The thing is that while I've been writing about moving forward for my book, I've been thinking A LOT over the past couple of month (pretty much since I moved) about looking forward.

Part of writing my book about moving forward has been focused on taking a look back.  I chuckle inside when I say that because the idea of moving forward and looking back seem to contradict each other - at least that is the way it appears to me.  However, I think looking back at who I was and the journey I've taken get to where I am now had an important role in making my move happen.  It may sound cheesy and trite, but moving was a HUGE leap of faith for me.  I had paralyzed myself for a long time in many ways from taking the steps I needed to take to progress and grow in my life and to actually do one of the things I felt needed to happen was hard for me to finally pull the trigger on.

Immediately after I moved this past summer I was sure I had made a huge mistake as a lot of the things that shaped my life weren't staying with me.  Yes, I recognize that I was the one who moved and that has an effect on things.  However, it was the internal optimist in me that hoped that a lot of the things that were dear to me would make the transition with me.  When they didn't that scared me since I wasn't sure what that meant in terms of what would be in store for me going forward.  How long would it be until I met new people I got a long with... I mean really go along with?  Would new opportunities professionally come my way?  How would this move change me?  These were all amongst the questions I had.  Then, in late June, as I walked away from saying good-bye to another lost friendship (or at least what I believe to be another lost friendship) I found my mindset shift in a way it hadn't ever before.  Though I was sad about losing this person I found my mind telling me it was just the universe's way of making room for new people to come into it.  Though it didn't make me feel THAT much better at that moment about the lost friendship, it help a lot more than one would ever expect.  (AND consequently, new people did come into my life not that long after.)

The fall month are typically very reflective for me.  Of course  Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur surely are a catalyst for this reflectiveness.  Other things drive along these thoughts as well and as much as I'm still looking back and thinking about moving forward, because my book is nowhere near done as I would like it to be, I now badly want to just look forward and focus as much as I can on the present and future. 

Much like the story of how I moved forward, it's now time to focus on what I hope this new story of my life will look like and figure out how I'm going to get there. It's for that reason I periodically pinch myself as all those years ago when I was focusing on moving forward did I think that the day would come that I would say I was looking forward in such a way as I do today.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bragging Rights

Though a lot of people would like for me to brag more often, I typically don't brag.  It's not because I want to be one of those people who is falsely modest, it's because (for better or worse) I am just a modest person when it comes to my accomplishments.  However, that is changing a bit... At least for this accomplishment...

In June 2011, I decided to train for my first 5K.  Many years prior to that I had decided I wanted to participate, and complete, as a "bucket list" type of thing.  However, after my first race in October 2011 I became addicted to racing.  On Sunday, September 8th I did something I would have never imagined doing in a million years.... I finished a half marathon!

Sweat is sexy!



Race Bling

 

To say I'm proud of this accomplishment is an understatement.  There is still a part of me that is amazed I did it.  In the days leading up to the race I was seriously conflicted as to whether or not I should actually attempt such a thing.  I wasn't sure I was ready.  Knowing that a friend of mine who was suppose to participate in the half marathon as well had chosen to participate in the 5K instead because she didn't feel ready probably didn't help matters.  Start times were a mere 45 minutes apart and I would have been done approximately 2 - 2:10 minutes later.  It was tempted to say the least.  However, I decided to challenge myself.  I decided that I would rather attain a EPIC FAIL instead of running a race I knew I could do with no problem.  As my yoga instructor once said to us, "If you don't challenge yourself you don't change."  So, I went into my race know that there was a good chance I could fail, and I accepted that fact.  Truth of the matter is that anything could happen in any race I attempted - even the easy 5K.


When I got home, Elsie immediately stole my medal from me ... I have to say, she does look adorable with it on.  It totally suits her!

I've showing off my finishers medal to everyone and anyone who will humor me. Thankfully, pretty much everyone I know falls into that category.

I swore close to the end of the race I would NEVER... EVER do another half marathon, but that feeling didn't last long.  By Sunday evening I was online looking at upcoming half marathons, and marathons as well.  I was told by someone who has done many half and full marathons that is how it goes.  She said, while you are in the process you hate it and swear this is the last time, but afterwards you can't wait to do it again.  She couldn't be more right!

Until next time, Xo!


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Spending a day, or two, "completely naked"

Three and a half years ago I referred to spending the day without access to e-mail or the internet at any point over a 12 - 16 hours period as "spending the day naked".  To do such a thing was unthinkable, but I did it as a result a day I spent volunteering.  Little did I know then, that spending the day without checking my e-mail or being online for 24 hours was in my future (and more than just once).

I agree to spend a Shabbos in a Chicago neighborhood known as West Rogers Park out of curiosity what it was like to fully observe a Shabbos AND the need to disconnect from life for an ever so brief period of time.  There was an appeal to being removed from the information overload I got on a daily basis from work e-mails, personal e-mails and text messages, and being online (both on a computer and via phone) all day.  At first I was okay with this disconnect.  When I went "officially" offline it was around 8 pm-ish.  I knew by the time Shabbos dinner was over I would be ready to go to bed so I had no problem with not "being in touch" with the outside world.  It really wasn't until I got home from Shul that next day that I really began to feel withdrawal kick-in.  By that point it was 11 am/noon-ish and there was still a good 8... 9... 10... hours to go until I could reconnect.  What was I suppose to do for all those hours?  Without getting into every single detail of what I did, I made it through.  Once I was given the green light I raced to my phone to find out what I had missed.  Turns out there wasn't a lot to see.  "Hmmm... I guess the world didn't miss me as much as I missed it," I thought to myself.

That was August 2011.

Fast-forward to about a year later... September 2012. I went to visit my BFF who is Modern Orthodox. Going into the trip it I understood I would be eating 100% kosher in their home AND keeping Shabbos while I was there. Unlike the home I stayed in during my August 2011 Shabbos experience, my BFF does allow for the use of computers, phones, tablets, etc. in the guest bedroom ONLY during Shabbos. Now you'd think I would have been doing cartwheels about this fact and totally taken advantage of it so I would have to be disconnected for SO LONG, however I didn't. Actually, unlike my prior experience, I found a greater sense of calm about the whole situation. Instead of experiencing withdrawal I felt a sense of peace in disconnecting. Does that mean I didn't run to my phone once Shabbos was over? Nope! I ran to it as fast as I could, but I didn't feel as anxious as I had before. I attribute this to a lot of things, including the fact that I had gone most of the month of July that year without a car radio which forced me to find peace and calm in stillness. Or, at least greater stillness than I was use to.

Since then, anytime I attend Shabbos dinner at the home of my friends who live in West Rogers Park (the ones I stayed with in August 2011) I always turn off my phone while I'm there. Furthermore, I've also begun turning off my phone while I'm in Shul as well. Even if I'm at a Reform Shul (as I was for Rosh Hashanah services Thursday morning).

The great surprise to me came Thursday when I discovered on my way to Rosh Hashanah dinner at my family's house that I accidental left my phone at home. I swear each and every time I was stopped at a light I tore through my bag as if I was going to get a different result. I think it was after the fourth "bag check" that I FINALLY accepted I didn't have it with me. At first I contemplated turning around to get my phone, but then realized I was good without. Honestly, I was happy not to have it with me. Without it I wasn't tempted to play with it all night and instead, visited with those at dinner. Even better I wasn't "one of those people" who was staring at their phone while in the midst of a conversation. (This is a bad habit I've been working hard on correcting all year.)

This week for the Thursday Blog Project, Melissa asked us to write about: What would your life be like if the Internet never existed?

All of the above is just my experiences with being disconnected from technology at various times over the past couple of years. If I had to literally answer the question Melissa posed, I'd image life would be a lot like it was when we didn't have the internet... and I'll add in text messaging, too. Without these things we'd have to go back to actually talking to people directly (Oh, the horror!!!) or picking up a newspaper or turning on the television to find out what it going on in the world. The amount of information overload would surely be a lot less.

For me, the above experiences have taught me a valuable lesson in disconnecting with technology and reconnecting in the real world.

With all that in mind, I please don't get me wrong. I still do see value in the Internet, texting, etc.; however, I think what I want to impress upon in this post is that I can see value without all these things as well... which is a HUGE leap for me.

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Now that I've shared some of my thoughts on what life would be like if the Internet never existed, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

GoodVibrations (Jeanette)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

5774

Once again, the Jewish community is entering into the high holiday season.  For the next 10 days we will be reflecting upon the past year, asking others to forgive us for our wrong-doing against them and looking forward to the year ahead. 

Over the last week or so, the excitement and chaos of summer has died down a bit here.  Though I believe this down time is for the better, it's provided more time to think about things that I've been pushing to the back of my mind.  It isn't necessarily a bad thing that this is happening, but it has just added to the already seriousness of this time of year.  (With the holidays and other factors I tend to be more reflective and serious around this time of year.)

In past years I have gone into the high holidays with somewhat of a "whatever" attitude.  Attending services and reflecting was more of an expected exercise than it was something of a spiritual nature for me as I didn't see how it could make a difference.  That is until this past year . . .

Though I've had my share of not so great times, I can't deny the past 12 months have been some of the greatest of my life.  There have been times when things weren't so great, but others I have to pinch myself to believe are real.  During the past years, I've spent a lot of time working on various parts of life that are quite important to me and feel like this year I reaped many benefits from that work.

I'm beyond thankful for the move I made.  Though I'm not 100% sure I'm living in the right area of world, I can with 100% confidence say making the leap was the right thing to do.  (This is something I highly doubted after I did it.) 

I got a lot of things I've been looking for over the past years, which is amazing.  And I cannot express how grateful I am for this fact.  Furthermore, though there isn't a clear picture of what they are exactly, I can feel there is more great opportunities ahead of me as long as I continue to pursue the things I am most passionate about.

Though there is so much to be grateful for I'm sadden by the losses I've had to experience along the way; however, I always remember that there is a reason things happen the way they do.  This year, I've learned to let go when there is really no good reason to hang on to something, or someone, any longer.  For better or worse that is just the way life is sometimes.

As 5773 comes to a close and we enter into 5774 I wish for a sweet year for all of those I love and care about the most.  I give thanks for those who've stayed with me along this crazy life journey  I'm experiencing, and for those that were only in my life for a brief period of time.  I have many personal wishes for the new year, but I will address those privately... as I will also address asking for forgiveness from those I feel I wronged the most.

For those of you who celebrate the Jewish High Holidays, I wish you L'Shana Tova!

Monday, September 2, 2013

On the "Edge" of Lake Michigan

This week for the Thursday Blog Project, Sara asked us to write about:  Tell us about your hometown, the place where you grew up.

When I was born, my family lived in a highrise building located in an area of Chicago known as the Edgewater neighborhood. 

Since I was very young when we moved, I can't remember much about living there.  I do recall going
to a pre-school at a place called Mundeline College (which eventually got taken into the Loyal College system).  It was right down the street from where we lived so we always walked to school.  I also remember having a babysitter whose name I believe was Kathy.  She went to Mundeline College and once gave me a teddy bear with a vest that had a "M" on it.

After Edgewater, we moved to the West Rogers Park (WRP) area.  Though it's an area of Chicago that is where a lot of Orthodox Jews live, we were not Orthodox.  While living there, I attended pre-school at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) that was just down the street from us.  My most distinct memory of the JCC is taking swim lessons there.  (It's funny the things that standout about a place or time in ones life.) While we lived in WRP, I developed a fear of big dogs because of a crazy German Shepard that would periodically get loose and run around the block.  On one occasion, a bunch of us were outside when this happened.  As soon as we noticed the dog was out we went running toward my friends house except I was too slow and no one would let me in.  So, I had to go next door to my house.  However, as I made my way to my house I tripped and fell.  When I looked up, the crazy dog was right in front of me growling.  I got up as fast as I could and sprinted around the dog and up the stairs that led to our front down.  I stood between the screen door and the main door as I waited for someone to let me in. When I think about it, I can still feel how scared I was and see the tears running down my face because all I wanted was for someone to let me inside so I would be "safe".  In retrospect, I'm not sure how much the dog would have hurt me, but back then it was super terrifying.  As I mentioned above, I let this cause me years and years and years of fear of large dogs. 

After living in West Rogers Park, we moved and to what I now call "The White House" apartment.  It was very large, three bedroom apartment with a maids quarter in the back.  The building had an indoor swimming pool that I always LOVED going to.  I have two favorite memories of this particular home.  The first is the large dining room.  Against my mom's wishes, I would often roller skate across the wood floor of this room with my skates that had steel wheels.  I still don't know WHY it was such a big deal that I did this, but it was.  My other favorite memory was that my bedroom, which was quite large, was right next to my dad's office area.  On occasion my dad wasn't thrilled about this fact.  For example, the time I kept singing the Hebrew song "Hine Ma Tov".  I had learned it at school that day.  After a few times of singing it, my dad kindly asked  me why I choose that song to sing and I replied that it was what we learned in school that day (I was attending a private Jewish day school at the time).  My dad's response to that was, "Did you learn any other songs?"  I smile when I think of that.  Poor guy!  I'm guessing he wasn't as thrilled as I was to have his office area by my room at that particular moment.  This particular place was also right down the street from where my oldest brother lived and a Dairy Queen.  My oldest brother doesn't live in that neighborhood anymore, but the Diary Queen is still there. :)

Over the past several months, I have driven past these areas.  If I have someone in the car, I feel the need to point out different places.  If I don't, I simple smile and remember the past.  I'm glad these places make me smile.  It makes me feel good to know I have good memories of where I use to live, and of my childhood.

Now that I have talked about places I've lived in the past, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

GoodVibrations (Jeanette)