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Use that Good China!

April 1st, 2015

I clipped this quote somewhere on the internet, and now I’ve done a Google search and a search of Facebook and can’t find it. May the writer forgive me for sharing these wise comments (which clearly were intended to be shared) without attribution.

” When I was studying nursing, I worked in a nursing home. There were so many residents that had sentimental and special things that were given away, in pristine condition and never used. It just seems like such a waste!

Tomorrow may never come, so don’t leave your beautiful, sparkly things sitting in boxes and in the cupboard. Use and enjoy them!”

I also found a column by Regina Brett, Columnist Regina Brett45 life lessons. It’s being circulated on Facebook as written by a 90-year old. They have her name right, but her age is 53 (I found this information on the urban-legend-busting website Snopes.com). I particularly want to share this goodie that relates to the one above:

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

–Regina Brett

For the record, I’m showing Ms. Brett’s photo here… and then showing the photo that has been accompanying the post on Facebook. Iris Apfel, Fashion DesignerI happened to recognize the incorrect photo. It’s Iris Apfel, a New York fashion icon and designer. I love her style!!! Click here for more photos and information on Iris.

My Own Challenge

I’m in a group on Facebook full of entrepreneurs working solo. One week there was a challenge to find things in our homes that we had not used, that we were essentially “saving for good.” I did well in the kitchen area, there was one jar of golden syrup that I deem so yummy I was saving it for a special occasion. I’d used my long-saved saffron and a vanilla bean, before the challenge.

Hawaiian dressBut in my closet? Oh, the beautiful clothing I wasn’t wearing. I have a 1960’s Hawaiian dress, in like-new condition. I sort of think of it as a museum piece and so I leave it for later, which never comes. I have a hand-woven/hand-embroidered dress from 1970’s Egypt which I’ve never worn and now doesn’t fit me anymore.

I do have some textiles I deem collectible which I never intended to wear (hand-embroidered with hand-dyed threads, from Uzbekistan and Turkey… and hand-knitted Turkish socks and Andean hats). I also have an amazing wool double-knit top from the 70’s (back when polyester double-knit was king… with op art patterns).

But really? Why not wear a dress until it doesn’t fit my 50-something body… when it did fit when I got it as a gift from a woman who bought it in Egypt?

And I have some amazing yarn I’ve collected as souvenirs on my travels. The problem with this is that I typically buy yarns I can’t get at my local shop. And I make a living helping shops help their customers, by pairing their yarns with my designs. So it’s hard to justify knitting with a specialty one-off yarn.

Isn’t life funny? I think I don’t hoard. I don’t hoard food or household supplies. I don’t hoard money, goodness knows. But I hoard textiles, which are my most precious things.

I am now eager for a hot day. It’s time to wear that dress.

How about you?

First Flowers of Spring

March 31st, 2015

Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers – and never succeeding.”
Marc Chagall (1990-1985)

Maybe you are like me, waiting for spring. It seems every year winter feels harder.

First VioletI did get a break this year when I drove south a few weeks ago. However, I nearly cried when Brian brought in this beautiful little bloom two days ago. He found it in our side yard. It had snowed that day, but the flower was there, along with the first robin we have seen this year.

Tuesday, the birds were all happy. There was no snow, and the side yard had many little violets blooming.

In Lansing, Michigan, where we live… well, there is always at least a light flurry of snow sometime in April. However, if we are lucky it won’t stick again this year.

I think we made it!

Violets peeking through

Above the Daisies!

March 18th, 2015

Just being alive is enough.colored daisies

I get confused about priorities, I get distracted constantly, I mismanage my time, I make choices that later I think might have been best made a different way.

However, I have people who love me and work I am excellent at doing, and a community, and a great family (by birth, marriage, and choice) and I am ALIVE.

As mom says, I am “above the daisies.” I really can’t want for anything else.

At the end of the day… Who we are

January 22nd, 2015

LightbulbI’ve been collecting healthy-lyric songs of self worth again lately. Not “I’m the greatest,” but “I can stand tall just as I am.” It’s been a fabulous journey! Sort of poetry plus music plus standing tall, in one lovely bundle. Or many lovely bundles, one found at a time.

I have loved Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” for a long time (although I am disappointed they made the video partly into a boy/girl attraction visual, which has nothing to do with the lyrics at all).

Last night I found another one of her songs I’d missed in the past. It’s called “Strip Me,” as in, if you strip everything away from my outsides, I can still be me inside. Here are some of the lyrics:

Everyday I fight for all my future somethings
A thousand little wars I have to choose between
I could spend a lifetime earning things I don’t need
That’s like chasing rainbows and coming home empty

And if you strip me, strip it all away
If you strip me, what would you find
If you strip me, strip it all away
I’ll be all right…

…’Cause when it all boils down at the end of the day
It’s what you do and say that makes you who you are

Makes you think about, think about it doesn’t it?
Sometimes all it takes is one voice…

…I’m only one voice in a million,
But you ain’t taking that from me.

Yes. At the end of the day it’s the insides and your actions… not your stuff or your looks. It’s a wonderful message, and it’s even better when delivered with music underneath it. I remember being a kid and memorizing songs as mantras. I hope some young people do that with this piece.

I hope you enjoy this, too. If you can’t see it here in this screen, try clicking this link.

Still Dreaming with Dr. King

January 19th, 2015

I live in Lansing, Michigan. My city is naturally integrated… People of all races and colors and faiths live in the same neighborhoods. I celebrate this.

My dear friend Altu is originally from Ethiopia, though she is now a US citizen and she had/raised her children here. Because of the way my community works, I was able to meet her, become close friends, and eventually travel together.

Altu & I took 2 trips to Chicago and then 10 years ago she took me to Africa. We went to 3 countries and saw not only historically important things (Egyptian pyramids for one) but I got inside homes. It was life changing.

I’m grateful for all the work done by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and those working beside him and continuing that education today.

Thank you, Dr. King.

…I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…

…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character…

May your own Dream never die.

Be Mean! (Don’t live afraid.)

January 3rd, 2015

lynndaddybemean475

My father, Verling C. “Pete” Troldahl, died in 1973, at age 40. I was 16. Today would be his birthday… I think he’d be 82, maybe 81 if I counted wrong.

An Odd Motto
As a kid, when we would leave the house, Mom would say “Be Careful!” Dad would chime in “Be Mean!”

He knew we were good kids. He didn’t mean it literally… he just didn’t want us to live scared. I have never forgotten that lesson.

Daddy died at 40. He’d be 82 today, I think. I miss him nearly every day.

My Wish for You
Today could be your last day. Let that knowledge give you the strength and determination to live without fear, or at least know you can’t make yourself safe anyway. Act as if today were your last.

Go forth, and be Mean!!!

(Photo of me in 3rd Grade, Daddio in 12th Grade.)

Intentionalist, not Minimalist

December 30th, 2014

Clean Kitchen!I recently rediscovered a post about intentionalism by Shanna Trenholm. She says that she prefers to label herself an Intentionalist rather than a Minimalist.

I resonate with her choice of labels. When people start getting rid of things and COUNTING how many things they have left, letting go becomes a contest and a push.

I get rid of things slowly and gently, so that I can have more ease in my life, and more room for the people who are the gems in my world. How about you?

An Example
This holiday week, I took a day to whisk two teens out of town. I took them to the Ann Arbor Art Museum and Zingerman’s Deli, about an hour away. It was an amazing day… They are good friends but had never been together for that many hours at one time before.

While I was gone, Brian took a ride with a bunch of his bicycle friends. At the end of the ride, they all came over to our home for an impromptu warm up and chat.

How things have Changed
Now, in past years, if Brian expected company I would freak out if I didn’t have several days’ notice to tidy up. I had piles on every flat surface, storage boxes out, in corners, and under the tables; and yarn, paper and other creative projects everywhere. It made things pretty hard to just sit down and chat without a frenzy of activity first.

But this week? They popped in without any notice. And I was out of town. And… not only was the house tidy enough to function, tidy enough to have 3 guys sit at the kitchen table with a clear spot in front of them… but I had baked the night before. Brian served them homemade baked goods with their tea or coffee. Score!

(The above photo is our kitchen on a normal morning these days. It has stuff on the counter which belongs there, but no dirty dishes. I took the photo not having planned a photo shoot. Amazing!)

Gratitude
I truly can’t believe how my life has changed. It fills me with gratitude and relief.

In just a few years my life has become transformed. It started maybe 6 years ago, certain moments made some purges necessary (the big one being my food allergies requiring a huge letting go in the kitchen). The little pebbles have become an avalanche of goodness, and my life is now functional and lovely.

The Turning Point: a Community
Three years ago, I realized that I was not making things happen as quickly as I wished. As a People Person, it became obvious that I needed peers on my journey of tossing things out. I started a Facebook group to find others on the same path.

(If you feel like letting go gently, you can  join my public Facebook group, Toss-It Tuesdays, here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tossittuesdays/ )

Eyes on the Prize?
I will never have a House Beautiful because I no longer want one. I want to be able to find things when I need them. I need to find things without flipping out and tossing one mess on top of another while calling myself stupid.

And most of all, I want to open my door to loved ones and valued acquaintances, any time they show up at my door. I don’t want to feel ashamed.

Tea Table

An Open Door
About two years ago I decided to open the door even if I didn’t like what my guest would see. I started to live as I professed: That people are/were more important than my lack of housekeeping pride. At first, I would just clear the table while they watched.

Since then, I’ve had a lot of friends over for a cup o’tea. It has been wonderful.

And this week? When Brian told me of his impromptu gathering, I was joyous! This is something I have believed could happen for years but never accomplished.

Still on a Journey
Now, don’t think I’m finished. Our attic, garage and basement are still in need of tossing. But community started things rolling for me, and I’m grateful.

Toss it Team, in the Works
I’m currently preparing a website for a private community of tossers, where members can chat using nicknames and know that snoopy outsiders or employers can’t see their activity. This evolved from requests I got, from friends who play it quiet on Facebook or who don’t go there at all. It will have a very small membership fee to support it, but not so high that it will keep people out who wish to participate.

That site isn’t ready yet, but if you go to www.TossItTeam.com you can read about it and sign up for an email notice when it is up and operating. I’m in a testing phase right now.

My Wish for You
May you find ways to live your own dreams, whatever they be. They can happen, one at a time, one day/step at a time. I believe we all can do it!

Believe… in Others, in Yourself!

December 23rd, 2014

A friend and I had a great but short chat the other day about believing we can do things that have been hard for us previously. Once we can picture a clean room, we are able to start by picking up the first thing. We must believe we can do what has been difficult or impossible before. It starts with SEEING something better inside our minds, so we can pursue it.

I just watched a 4 minute video that talks about this in a larger sense. Dr. Viktor Frankl (who survived a Nazi death camp) talks about wanting meaning in our lives more than material/ financial things. Please take the time to watch it. You may come away with a new intent to see the best, if not in yourself then maybe in your hall closet or the kitchen cupboards.

Recipe: Rave-Review GF Biscuit Balls

December 20th, 2014

biscuit balls Here we are in the holidays… and there are gatherings to attend. I have a lot of food restrictions and so I often bring my own goodies. Also, I’m having a fair number of friends over just a few at a time. I love to make biscuits (and sometimes soup) to keep it simple.

I don’t like sticky hands, so I’m not into kneading dough. Also, since I’m using non-wheat ingredients things bake better in smaller portions. No monster biscuits here. Big ones just don’t cook through to the middle until the edges are too dry.

Regardless of their quirks, these get excellent reviews. If you don’t like them to be balls, just squish them a little bit on top with the back of the scoop. I sort of like them this way!

Lynn’s Rave-Review GF Biscuit Balls

scant 1c Tapioca FLOUR/starch (powder, buy at healthy grocery or Asian market)
Scant 3/4 c Sorghum flour
1/4 c Navy Bean flour or Garbanzo flour
1/8 c Flaxseed meal (golden if you don’t like flecks showing)
optional: 1/8 c Teff flour for protein and brown color
1/2 tsp each: baking soda, cream of tartar, salt
1/4 c oil: any high-heat-friendly (grapeseed, sunflower or safflower)
3/4 or just a bit more very hot water

Preheat 375F
Prepare baking pan with light misting of oil. (Though I show a muffin pan, you can use a cookie sheet just as easily.)

Blend all dry ingredients in medium mixing bowl.
Add liquid ingredients, blend with fork until fully mixed. Let sit a few minutes to saturate flours fully.
Oil a 2 Tbsp scoop or a 1/8 c measuring cup (coffee measure). Drop by slightly-rounded scoops. Should make a dozen.

Bake for 13 minutes. They won’t look baked at all, but a toothpick will pull out clean and they should smell a little dry or toasty.

Pumpkin SoupCool at least so that you don’t burn yourself before diving in… OK? I love them with real butter or homemade pumpkin butter. They make an excellent pair with my equally-highly-reviewed Pumpkin Soup.

My Birthday Gift to You

November 29th, 2014

legwarmersview1tapFish-200x300NOTE: Sale extended to December 31!

On Friday, I turned 56 years old and this blog turned 12. I’m celebrating, in part, by going on a trip down memory lane. You belong in this story… join me if you will.

I gave myself ColorJoy (the blog… “Art as an everyday attitude”) as a birthday present in 2002, after wanting one for a long time. You know, my family owned small-town newspapers and both my Grandma Ruthie and Uncle OT wrote columns for those papers. My Gramma Illa wrote a column for a several-state-wide farming magazine, too. It just felt natural that I would write one also.

Six Baby Chippy SocksWordPress says that this is my 3,250th post! There would be no point in posting if nobody was out there listening. Since the very beginning, I’ve enjoyed getting to know you. Several folks have been with me since the very beginning.

As a community-focused person, I value you and your input here. Life is much better with you in it.

Patterns for this Community

When I first started knitting again, I made things up on the needles. That’s just how it made sense to me. I was a computer trainer, and an after-hours artist. Right away you started asking me for patterns. And thus this new life started.

Road-Tested Noro LegwarmersOn Ravelry.com, I now have 38 patterns available as downloads in my PDF pattern store. I’ve written more which were published by others (Knitty.com, Willow Yarns, the book Joy of Sox and more). Adding those in, I show 59 designs on Ravelry. Whew! And you have been with me every step of the way… test knitting, encouraging me, keeping me grounded.

A Thank You Sale (not on Black Friday)

Though my Blogiversary was on Friday, I could not stand to offer you a thank you sale on that day which is full of other you-don’t-need-this sales at malls and big box stores. Ugh. I waited until the frenzy had slowed down a bit.

So… to thank you for being on this lovely journey to creativity and colorful knitting, I’m offering a sale now.

One-Day NeckwarmerUntil December 7 31, buy 3 of my single patterns (regularly $6) and get one more free! Just choose 4 patterns, put them all in your shopping cart; when you check out, you will see the discount in your total.

That is only $18 for four of my designs, written by me, in language you know you understand. This is less than dinner with a friend, and it will give you hours of enjoyment.

I test and proofread (with help from this community) before I release patterns. If you have any hiccups while working through the pattern I am here to make sure you succeed.

(You don’t need a Ravelry account or a Paypal account to participate in this offer. I use these companies to deliver your order.  No signing up required (though Paypal makes that option a little hard to find).

Your Favorites

But which ones might you choose? Here are some hints. Of course, there are more to choose from when you go directly to my Ravelry online store.

Colorama Crescent Shawl in 4 sizesShown here are some of your favorite patterns over the years. The Road-Tested Legwarmers outsell all my other Ravelry patterns by leaps and bounds. Let’s face it, lots of us get chilly and winter coats are often not long enough for comfort. These can be for dance, for fun, for staying warm in a drafty home, or for fashion. They include knit to fit instructions for any legs and any yarn gauge.  Here I show them knit in purple solid Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted and Noro Kureyon.

Also shown are my Chippy Socks for Kids (thus named because I couldn’t stop at knitting just one pair). These are perennial baby shower gifts.

twistedcoloramaBThe Keys and Coins Hat can be made with or without ear flaps. My friend Bonnie has made close to two dozen of these, and has the pattern memorized now. They are pretty quick knits and very impressive as a gift.

Colorama Crescent Shawl comes in 4 sizes and can be knit in zigzag stripes or in one yarn (which shows off beautiful feather-like stitchwork as seen in the final photo… that one is knit in handpainted yarn from my friend Meg at Twisted Fiber Art). It is a very pleasant knit with a nice rhythm to it. There are only 3 places where you need to pay close attention. The rest is knitting that can be done while chatting with friends. And it’s very wearable! Small versions can scrunch up like a scarf and I wear my Goddess size wrapped around me like Stevie Nicks in 1978.

What else? The holiday-gift favorite One-Day Neckwarmer, which made the Patternfish Top-Ten Cowls… distinction. It really does knit up in part of a day. It takes less than 50 grams of light worsted weight yarn in two colors, so two 50 gram balls gets you two gifts. I have one in merino and angora that I wear in our house when I get chilly.

Is it Too Mushy…

LynnH…too mushy to say I appreciate you… that I am so deeply grateful that I’m in this place in life that I can write to you here? That we have this community together?

It’s way better than a newspaper column. You can comment back and we can chat.

I hope you enjoy my Blogiversary as much as I do! Hugs from Lansing, Michigan, USA!

This brought me to tears.

November 27th, 2014

A Gut Reaction

I could talk about how I was an insecure young person… and think I’m talking about my unique characteristics. For the record, I have never looked insecure on the outside because I talk a lot, which looks like confidence.

Yet a few years ago I got clear that even people who look like they have always belonged… even those people can feel like they don’t fit in. A friend who lives a house she likes, a neighborhood or two from where she grew up, who in her 50’s does the work she trained to do in her teens, who married her high school sweetheart and is still happily married? She commented to me once about “those of us who are creative” (implying that we don’t fit in the norm).

Jonathan Fields of Good Life Project (his podcast is wonderful… check it out) says that in the midst of people we often feel alone and lonely. It can be so very true!

It’s a sad truth that we humans need to belong and yet we feel like we don’t belong more often than not. And when we feel insecure, the first thing we tend do fuss with is our appearance. We worry about our weight, our skin/zits, our weight, our hair cuts, our clothing, where we live, what we drive… and more.

Where We Least Expect It

Even in an environment of general support we can feel off center at times. Once I complained that a group of women in my dance troupe were all expected to wear the same type of costume for a dance.

My intent was to support those who would feel/look more beautiful in a different silhouette. The look on one dancer’s face told me that what she heard was that I thought she wasn’t beautiful enough in the chosen costume. My opinion that another costume would be better means that I didn’t think they looked good in the required costume. Ouch. (I’m still squirming about that misstep.)

I picked up a copy of O magazine (by Oprah Winfrey’s organization) last spring. There was an article on decluttering which interested me. I love some of her regular columnists including Brené Brown. Yet the front cover of that magazine had an article titled “Diet or Exercise: The real key to weight loss, once and for all.” And inside? Advertising all over selling products to slow down or eliminate aging, or cover flaws. Flaws?

My Obvious Flaw that Some Don’t Notice

I tell you what… Once I made friends with a lovely 5-year old on a day-long train ride to Montreal When we said goodbye she asked… “do you have a pink tooth?” I said yes, that it was an “owie” a long time ago but it doesn’t hurt now.

yarnbomblynn192x191I have a damaged front tooth because of an ill-fitting orthodontic retainer when I was about 16 years old. It shows up on photographs. I figure that some day I’ll get the veneer that would make it less noticeable in photos. I almost did it ten years ago and decided against it for a number of reasons.

However, I smile a full-tooth smile every day. I laugh every day. And the people I’m close to don’t even notice that tooth until I mention it. They see the real me, which comes through very strongly above how my tooth looks.

That tooth is a reminder that things went permanently wrong when I obeyed blindly even when things didn’t feel right (“don’t take off the retainer no matter what…” and thus even when it hurt unmercifully I didn’t take it off and it killed a nerve). So the flaw, if there is any, is in my teen self being a good girl and following orders even when my gut told me that something was wrong.

My Story: Young Adult Insecurity

When I was younger, my tendency to worry about being accepted came out in an  impulse to buy things that would make me feel more acceptable. If I was being interviewed for a job, I bought a whole new fancy suit and raincoat rather than perhaps standing tall in something I already owned or that was less pricey but that was just fine. If I was having company over, I would buy new towels and throw pillows and serving dishes, as well as buying food that was more pricey than really fit into my cash flow.

I spent much of my entertainment hours reading catalogs planning to shop, or meeting friends at a mall for a full day of shopping. The debt wasn’t the core issue. What I bought wasn’t even the issue. The issue was feeling that I wasn’t OK and maybe that one next purchase might make me more acceptable.

I got into unmanageable debt (the numbers mean less than whether I could manage the debt at the time). In 1990 I finally gave up unsecured debt… credit cards, professional services received but not paid immediately, and personal/ signature loans (there were no payday loans back then and I’m grateful).

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that younger me. I call her Cookie, which was a nickname that never stuck but that I liked.  She had many of my current good attributes, including loyalty and valuing loved ones. She wore black most of the time to feel sophisticated(yes, really… there are folks in my life now who can vouch for that). The black was a good background for her (important-looking) artsy jewelry. She bought stuff hoping that it would make her belong.

The Song which Brought Me to Tears

I was driving the other day, changing radio stations as I drove. This practice exposes me to musical styles I would not otherwise hear. I heard this song… which has a repeating line “you don’t have to change a single thing.” And I cried. I cried for that young me. For Cookie who felt unacceptable even though her energy attracted friends who appreciated that energy.

Please listen. It may not be your normal style, but it’s worth listening to as a poem of encouragement set to music. One voice and a lean musical accompaniment.

For the record, while looking for the video I found an angry column in ChicagoNow which focuses on the makeup-wearing message in the song (while I responded to “…max your credit card… buy it all, so they like you…“). And the columnist points out that sometimes women choose to wear makeup within the constraints of a real world which expects them to look a certain way. But then she says:

Am I the world’s greatest beauty? Of course not, but I have commandeered survival of the fittest. Brains over brawn. I figured out the rules of society and used them to my advantage…

…What of this lyric, “you don’t have to try” which is possibly even more problematic? Suuuuuure we don’t have to try. This irritates me because it places the blame on women for living inside society’s norms instead of on the media and current attitudes that put that norm in place. Just love yourself! …You know what the truth is? The more standard a lady looks and the more forgettable her looks are, the easier her life is. There are exceptions for daunting beauties, but the rest of us are just trying to get by….

…It seems girls will be shamed no matter what. If you rock your natural skin and hair, you get called a lesbian/chubby/weird. If you learn the unspoken rules of society and conform to them to give yourself the best advantage in life, you’re just a superficial, poser fake-face who shouldn’t “try so hard”. Only true natural beauties deserve any attention, okay?…

Strong feelings, there. And she’s seeing totally different parts of the song. And her filter through which she’s viewing the lyrics is very different than mine. I’ll be fascinated to hear how it lands on you.

In an article I read about the video on Today.com, I found a link to a place more in sync with my take on things… RAW Beauty Talks. On their page they say:

In my view, if anyone male or female wants to wear makeup as personal expression or self-decorating I’m behind it 100%. If someone wears makeup on stage or on camera because the lights obscure their features, that is logical. If they choose to dress/present themselves in a certain way to belong to a specific environment… well, cool.

I just hope that you don’t feel you *need* makeup on your days off or with your friends. Once I watched an Oprah show where there were 3 women on a challenge to live without makeup for a week. One of the women’s husbands had never seen her without makeup. When she was pregnant, she’d put on makeup before bed in case she had to go to the hospital quickly.

Then again, decorative things can feel like luxuries at times. You and some friends might go get a manicure together to feel pampered. One of my best friends can’t wear makeup or dress up at work so she rocks the girly stuff on her days off for fun. That all fits in a self-acceptance place.

You Belong! Yes. You belong.

The song says “…when you’re all alone, do you like you?” I like where she’s going with that. I wonder, though, why it’s so lonely finding our way getting to that point.

Why do we all feel alone next to each other? Why do we feel that freckles are awful on us and cute on someone else? Why does everyone like everyone else’s hair but not their own? Why do we think that a blemish makes our heart less whole? Why is it so universal to feel this way and go through such an insecure time?

I’m empathizing with those who are twisting themselves into something they don’t like in order to fit with people they don’t really want to fit with. If you feel (as young Cookie/Lynn did) you need to buy stuff to be accepted/ avoid criticism… to protect yourself against feeling unacceptable to others? Well, that sad insecurity I lived with is what this song touches in me. Because, as I discovered, even people who look comfortable from the outside looking in, on the inside don’t always feel like they belong.

And with that, I’ll quote the song.

You don’t have to change a single thing…

…’cause I like you.

Do you feel pressure to live BIG?

October 27th, 2014

A friend asked on Facebook…

Do you feel pressure to play it big?

My Reply

Here is what I wrote to that friend’s prompt:

Nope, not now. I want to be kind, be a good friend, and help my right people feel more confident about whatever it is that I’m teaching.

Family Portrait, Circa 1972My daddy died at 40. I was 14. My 20’s were a whirlwind, trying-to-fit-a-whole-life-into-a-short-decade. In my 30’s I went through profound inner change involving more than can fit in this post.

When I hit 40, I figured “the rest of my life is gravy.” Daddy influenced many others in his short life and I was given more time than he.

So I focus on being real, honest, kind (not nice/wimpy like “good girl” often means), truly helpful and authentic.

Community is My Everything

I can’t go out in my city or at a fiber-arts/knitting event or ukulele festival without being recognized. Last night attending a concert, a woman stopped to thank me for an excellent socknitting class years ago.

Last week at Walgreens a young woman stopped me. I taught her to knit in her elementary school years. She’s 21 now and a mother. She thanked me. She still knits regularly. Here she is at right,  many years ago, having knit a frog from a kit one of my ColorJoy readers sent. It was really heartwarming to see her again.

Youngster Showing Frog she Knit HerselfWhat would a huge income do for me? I wish to have a tombstone that says “She was a good friend.” Some people have fame and respect but nobody wants to hug them, or be their friend who can take a call at 4 o’clock. Later for that sort of “big.” I’ll take small and gentle any day.

Surprise, Surprise!

I’ll keep striving, in part because nobody really expected me to have a good, happy life. (They’d say “you have so much potential.”) I worked my emotional butt off to get here. As long as I can teach and encourage, I am content. It’s OK for people to pay me for the encouragement… But I fortunately prefer serving groups rather than individuals. I can price a group experience so that more people can take advantage of the offering.

It was a deep question. Excuse the long answer. Fewer words would not answer properly.

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Beyond My Initial Take, if I Want to be Honest

The truth is, I do want some parts of my life to be BIG. I want a big heart, I want to help others make their lives more content.

No matter what I’ve done professionally, I’ve always been the “explainer” of the office. I was the unofficial trainer and the problem-solver long before I ever had an official teaching position. If I understand it, I can teach it. It’s a joy and a gift to see someone’s face light up in understanding!

slow and steady

If I thought my calling was “teaching” I might end up a full-time schoolteacher like so many people in my family. If I thought my calling was “art” I might try to sit in a studio alone cranking out product to sell at the next art fair. If I thought my calling was “encouragement” I might be a coach or a therapist. All of those things are part of what matters to me, but the intersection of them brings me to life and makes me the best I can offer to the world.

(Side note… I used to work in a finance department. I used to be a legal secretary. I used to be a purchasing officer. I used to teach DOS batch programming and other computer skills. I used to be a data entry operator. I used to be a Y2K consultant. I did all of those well enough to make a living. Some were even fun, and a few were life changing.)

Slow is the Way to Go

The longer I live, the more I find that real progress happens when I do small things consistently over time. If I choose to walk around the block every morning as water boils for tea, I will become “someone who walks daily” and I’m more likely to go on a longer bone-strengthening walk, more often.

Autumn Colors in my Neighborhood

If I choose to first eat a piece of fresh fruit (and make sure there is some in the house) when I crave sugary treats, then I may find I don’t want more… or that a smaller portion of the treat will satisfy me later. If I decide that my keys MUST go in my purse and the purse goes near the door, then I will have less chaos every day. Small stuff adds up.

Where Does this Hit You Right Now?

So… what about you? What are the true treasures and gifts in your life? What matters most of all? Do you feel like YOU need to play it big? Are you OK with small steps? I sure would have answered this differently a few decades ago… I’d love to hear your input.

Maybe That’s not Love

October 10th, 2014

This video has been making the rounds of the internet, and maybe you have already seen it. However, it echos my earlier posts on body acceptance and standing tall. It’s not long, and her attitude is fun and even silly, not preachy.

“People have always said they cannot get my songs out of their heads. I heard that so often, I took responsibility for what I wanted to put in there! The answer is joy. The answer is love. The answer is worthiness and celebration. That’s what I want for myself and everyone on this planet.”

–Donna Lou Stevens

“I was a butterfly all along and thought I was a worm. I believe everybody has wings and most everyone has just forgotten like I did. My job as a performer and musician is to remind people of that fact.”

–Donna Lou Stevens

The Imperfection Club

October 2nd, 2014

I run a group on Facebook called Toss-It Tuesdays. It’s more of a catchy title than what we really do. It’s more like a support spot for folks working on getting out from under this American dilemma… too much stuff and not enough room to put it in.

A Club of Confusion
Of course, this combination creates a secondary problem which is clutter and disarray. If you experience even a small bit of this, you are not alone. If you are there, and you feel shame and/or try to keep people from seeing your living space, you are in excellent company.

There is no need for shame. YOU are lovely. The space is perhaps a problem, but you are not.

IMG_2939.JPG

A friend on the Toss-It group asked how I got my kitchen counter cleared off. (Astoundingly, it seems to be cleared more than not these days.) That’s a big question and it took years.

The real answer? Keep coming back. You’ll go backward every day. Let’s face it, especially with a kitchen we use the space so often it is guaranteed to need work just about as soon as any work gets done. This is as it should be.

SO… start over. AND and and and… don’t wait to start until it can be perfect. It can NEVER be perfect. Just keep plugging. Don’t give up. YOU can do it.

A Tiny Hint with Big Results
Anytime you find something you can get rid of and not miss it? Any time you have an inkling you could let go of it? If you give it away/toss it/recycle it/somehow let it out of your home, then you will NEVER have to decide what to do with it again.

One of the members of the Toss-It group said it this way (paraphrased): “The shame went out in the trash with our junk.” I find this deeply moving, and it has been true in my case as well.

Imperfection: An Unlikely Ally
Do it over and over, Give yourself days where you do the minimum, and even when you put more effort in, practice doing it imperfectly. I was raised to believe that washing dishes was not finished until the whole counter top had been wiped down. However, in order to make progress in my own life, I must say that I can do 4 of the 10 dishes and not wipe the counter, and that’s still worth doing.

Start over again every time, and FORGIVE YOURSELF when it feels like it’s not good enough. It takes a long time to learn new stuff. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth plugging at it.

If you want to join us on Toss-It Tuesdays, it ‘s a public group on Facebook (you do need a Facebook account). Click and I’ll approve you as soon as possible. You can belong !

Photo: my countertop first thing this morning. Imperfect… Not wiped down, but also no stacks of dirty dishes or bottles waiting to be recycled. No extra food items belong stored out here,either. Score!!! (Yes, some days it is much worse… But I’m super excited that it can happen in my current life, any day.)