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My Birthday Gift to You

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

legwarmersview1tapFish-200x300   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, buy 3 of my single patterns (regularly $6) and get one more for only one dollar! Just choose 4 patterns, put them all in your shopping cart and that last one will only cost $1. When you check out, you will see the discount in your total.

That is only $19 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.

Thursday, 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?

Monday, 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.

===

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

Friday, 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

Problem Solving = Creativity = Good Party

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

EricMomMe450MomCake80th450

Wow! Mom’s party was such a great experience! She had such fun seeing friends from so many parts of her life and her past. She’s a lovely person, and her friends are excellent company.

I am painfully inexperienced at planning parties/gatherings. This special occasion was the perfect time to just dive in and learn. If creativity is problem solving (I believe it is), I got an excellent lesson in creativity while putting this together.

The Perfect Cake

My dear friend April loves to bake and decorate cakes. It’s her primary visual artform. She volunteered to bake the cake for Mom’s party.

Just look at how beautiful that cake is! The flower decorations and her plate look so perfect together. April thought of Mom the whole time she made it. Even the frosting was custom for her. It was moist and tasty, too. We got nice comments on it all day.Cake80th450

I fond those curlicue candles somewhere, years ago. They were just waiting for this event, don’t you think?

Music

A few times during the party, Mom asked Brian and I to sing. Many of her friends had never heard us sing before! It was a joy and an honor to do that for her. After all, she paid for uncountable voice lessons for me over many years… decades, even.

Heftones80thFireplace450Minor Freakout

Thursday I found myself at the food co-op trying to figure out how much to buy. I had a moment of thinking “why did I think I could figure this out?” After all, our family includes me and Brian, Mom and Fred, and brother Eric and his wife Diana. We six people are  the entire roster of all of our relatives in the entire state of Michigan.

I realized that although I’ve had parties before, they were always potluck. When guests bring food, you end up with enough to go around. I was puzzled and a little freaked out standing there at the store.

I called one of Brian’s sisters who entertains often and well. When she didn’t answer, I called Diana. She helped me figure out how much I might need. I ended up with a 7-pound bag of carrots, a few bunches of celery, and two gallons of organic apple juice (to be mixed with unsweetened soda water).

In the end, we had more food than necessary. This is a high class problem! Food80th450We’re still eating carrot sticks 3 days after the party, and that is after we gave some away. I’ll return some of the unopened items as well.

Planning Challenges

Decorating rooms is not one of my skills. I’m not a big fan of decorations that get thrown away. Candles please me, but they didn’t seem right for this event.

Finally the answers came to me… balloons for the table decorations would be perfect. Facebook friends directed me to a place nearby that would be open in the morning when I needed to pick them up.

The Corsage Dilemma

Mom doesn’t love the disposable nature of flowers, and also often has an allergic reaction to them. I wanted her to have a corsage.

I figured out that maybe a ribbon of some sort might make a good corsage. I have a lot of satin ribbon here at the house, but not in the colors I wanted to use.

Finally it hit me that the curlicue ribbons available for wrapping packages might work well. The balloon store also had ribbons of that sort. I bought two and stuck them together to get colors which suit Mom. Yay! She loved it.

GuestBook80th450Very Special Guest Book

It occurred to me that Mom would value a guest book for this occasion. First I asked her if she had one of her own. She did not.

After thinking about options, I remembered that I had a beautiful handmade paper/hand-sewn book. It was made by Susan Hensel, an artist friend who used to live in town but now lives in Minneapolis. The book was perfect for the event, with a dark blue cover and pale turquoise and white pages. Yay!

A Mistake

The one thing that went wrong was minor. I used Mom’s ring molds to make 2 ice rings for the punch bowl. I found some organic green grapes which might look nice frozen with juice. I figured the grapes might thaw more slowly than a liquid.

I had purchased one lime, intending to slice it thin and float the slices in the apple juice/soda water punch. At the last minute I had a doubt that the ice ring would look festive enough. (Note that this happened well after midnight, not a great time for changing plans.)

I sliced the lime and added it to the ring, put it in the freezer, and went to bed. The next morning, it was not frozen.

It may be that our 2nd freezer is not as cold as the first. However, the consensus was that citrus takes a lot longer to freeze than water.

Live and learn! I was freaked out for a few minutes. Then I realized that the party’s success was not dependent on ice.

I’m glad I was able to get to that thought rather quickly. There was a time I would have obsessed over the one imperfection instead of enjoying the many successes of the day.

PS

You may know that my favorite color is turquoise. Take a look at these photos, and notice that I came to that preference  honestly!

MomFred80th450

An Amazing Woman turns 80

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

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A Tough Cookie
Today is my mother’s 80th birthday. Born 1 hour north of Duluth by modern measures, she was premature… only 3-1/2 lb. That year, babies of her status had about a 2% chance of survival.

Many things conspired in her favor, and somehow she made it. She still is tough. It also helped a lot that her mother was a Public Health pioneer who was raised by a midwife. Grandma’s father had also been a preemie, and she grew up with family stories of how they had helped him thrive when he was first born.

A Reading Teacher/ Author/ Illustrator
Mom’s parents were both educators. She followed in their footsteps.

As a child she struggled to read and spell, while her younger sister was County Spelling Bee champion. We now understand her struggles as dyslexia. This challenge, in the end, made her a patient teacher of reading. She taught 30 years, most of them in 1st Grade.

IMG_1909.JPGMom taught hundreds of children to read. While looking for ways to help strugglers, she developed a series of 4 very-beginning reader books. She both wrote and illustrated these charming stories. A few years ago i helped her make those books available to the world via Lulu.com

A Dancer/ Athlete
Mom has always loved dancing. She and Fred dance at least once a week. I remember her ironing to dance music on the turntable in the 60’s. (She won the State of Minnesota Mary Proctor Better Ironing Award as a youth. Yes, that was a thing.)

Mom and her partner Fred win multiple dancing medals each year in the Polk County Senior Games. Mom also started running the 50-yd and 100-yd dashes after she kicked cancer 18 years ago.

This last February, she won the trophy-award for the top athlete in the games, for females in her age group. Look at these awards!!!

A Celebration
Mom’s kids & spouses are throwing her a party this weekend. A bit of cake, fruit, punch and a lot of hugs should make a lovely event.

Please join me in celebrating the birthday of the tough, feisty, amazing Liz Troldahl. As she always says, “Any day above the daisies is a good day!”

Would you consider leaving Mom a birthday greeting in the comments today? I know it would touch her heart to hear from you. Thanks.

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The Feelings of Mothers’ Day

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

I wish to share with you an excellent post from writer Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) about motherhood, non-motherhood and loving where we are on the spectrum. As a woman with no biological children and none in my home, I have no regrets where I am as self-appointed “fairy godmother” to many.

20140510-143507.jpgLove to all on this mother-celebrating weekend. I have the fortune of a good relationship right now with my gutsy mom, and will enjoy that. We did not always feel this ease together. (Photo is my mom, age 79, who can out-run her 55-year-old daughter… literally… in a foot race.)

If you are one of those who have pain from a sad relationship (or non-relationship) with your own mother, I send you love, empathy and acceptance. May you have time with (or memories of) someone who does love you and see you as wonderful, just the way you are.

(The post I am linking here is on Facebook. It seems to work even for the public who choose not to have an account there, or members who are not logged in. Let me know if it does not work for you.)

Three Sorts of Women, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Help from Strangers… NOT on News at 10

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Snow!

It has been a bear of a winter here in Mid-Michigan!

A few days before Christmas, we had the biggest ice storm in recorded history. 40% of the city was without electricity and there were some folks who were out of power for over a week.

Trees were down everywhere. Many roads were un-driveable because of branches and power lines in the streets.

After that we have had periods of deep snow, and extreme cold. We are all done with winter around here.

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Today ‘s Adventure
I was afraid driving from Lansing to Owosso today. Merely 25 mph seemed unsafe at first (6:00am on a Saturday). It was good that there were very few drivers on the road!

Generally, I opt out of travel in difficult weather these days. I have finally given into the fact that I am human, and this is Earth. Nature is bigger than I am.

However, a friend’s car is in the shop, and her child needed to go to a standardized college-admissions test. I chose to make sure the kid stayed on track, and that’s how I found myself driving in drifting snow.

I love to drive, and drive a LOT (my JoyBug turned over 200,000 miles today. I have a better than average skill at handling my vehicle. I was still concerned enough to not feel safe sipping my hot cup of tea until I arrived an hour and a half later (it usually takes less than 45 minutes).

Short-Term Drama
Near my destination, I did get pulled into a drift on a back road (no ditch, thank goodness… A drift in the middle of a flat road). I had taken a good shovel with me and un-beached the bug. That was ONE way to wake up quickly!

Four men passing by this country road (in big vehicles) stopped to push me out. Three guys wasn’t enough… but that 4th guy was the charm. I’m so grateful!

Again, it is proven… Most people are good. They just don ‘t make the news.

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“Try Something New” Day

Monday, July 8th, 2013

If ColorJoy is about creativity in all ways, then trying something new and stretching is ColorJoyful. June was crazy in my world, I spent more time traveling for work than ever before. I sang, I danced, I knit… all out of town.

(Photo at Right is Habibi Dancers backstage at a Library Event, below is The Fabulous Heftones at Wheatland Traditional Arts Weekend.)

While I was on the road, I didn’t post here. Posting becomes harder, the longer I wait in between posts.

Fabulous Heftones at Wheatland Traditional Arts WeekendI’m pushing past the clumsiness by doing something guaranteed to be clumsy. I’m doing something I’ve not done before. I pointed the video camera at my face. Maybe we can connect more fully if you hear me speak?

I think video is great for connection. It’s also good for demonstration. Let me show you how easy it is to use fabric paint to embellish objects.

First I show you my eyeglasses, which were black for over a decade but are now pearly turquoise. In the video I embellish plastic dollar-store earrings. I hope you enjoy it.

(Note: if you can’t view this here, CLICK HERE to see on YouTube’s site. On my computer it doesn’t work in FireFox, but it does work in Chrome.)

Oh… (added later) here are up close photos of my eyeglasses before & after.

Before:

glasses before

After:

glasses after

Why Be Alone?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

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There is some talk in the press lately on introverts and their needs; their contributions to business and social groups. It is a world-enhancing concept; I’m all for it. However, alone time is not only a need for introverts.

Me, Too!
I’m an Extrovert. I love people, and have many good friends.

Yet, I came of age in a family of 3, and I prefer to interact with one friend at a time. The list of friends I meet for lunch or tea in the course of a month is pretty long. Relationship is a high priority in my life. The way I do it is time-consuming… and totally worth it to me.

I have a very public life. I can barely go to a coffeehouse or grocery store without seeing someone who knows me. This is a city of 115,000 people, and it feels as though I know most of them! Yet, I go crazy if I can’t be alone.

A Balancing Act
I find social interaction in groups socially confusing. Being at the front of a room, either teaching or performing, energizes me. Tea with a friend is perfect.

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On the other hand, a room full of people, even if I love them individually, is over-stimulating and overpowering. I tend to sit near the door in these situations.

The Ears Have It
I think I’ve finally figured it out. I’m overly stimulated by sound. Sitting between two conversations is harder than playing chess, I can’t figure out what to focus on.

Even when I work alone, I prefer writing after midnight. My beloved is sleeping at that time, and our city neighborhood is quiet. Nobody is walking a dog past our corner. There are no sounds of bicycles, cars, or dribbling basketballs on the sidewalk at that hour.

My Personal Friendly Noises
I figured out last summer when I took a 2-week retreat to Montreal, that a regular repeating sound nearby helps me work. A ticking clock, crickets or a percussive old-fashioned lawn sprinkler can calm my ears, so that they are not straining to hear sounds further away.

(Ticking clocks distract others… Including my Brian. Rain stresses me out, but a waterfall calms me. It takes a while to figure it out.)

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I purchased an app for my iPod which makes cricket sounds and a host of others… Birds, water, clocks, wind chimes. It has helped me work alone during the day. By playing a sound near me, my ears don’t strain to hear things a block away.

Growing Up?
I guess I need alone time more now, at 50-something and self employed. Still, I remember in college buying a friend a fast food meal so we could have a 1-1 conversation outside the dorm or sorority house.

It’s a joy to learn how best to work. I exhibit many attributes of a person with ADD, but the typical treatment for it makes me worse, not better.

As a child, I know some adults worried for my future. As a young adult, I struggled to find ways to be an effective employee (often staying late, to get deskwork done when the environment quieted down).

My Own “Boss”
As a self-employed woman, I now can’t afford a bad day. I am my own secretary, publicist, computer tech, webmaster, copy writer, graphic designer, errand-runner, pattern writer… I am even the products I sell: teaching and singing.

It took me a very long time to figure out what it was about me that needed such care. Even though quiet music playing in a restaurant would distract me from good conversation, I didn’t see that as anything but restaurant-relevant.

I found an interesting article on introverts here: Introverts Explained: Why we love you but need to get away from you

You may find the article enlightening.

Are you in need of alone time? Do you find that those around you are fine with it? Threatened? Confused?

PS The iPod Touch/ iPhone app I use is called Quick Sleep. It lets you save combinations of sounds for later (crickets & a clock; 4 kinds of birdsong). It also has a night timer to fall asleep to your favorite sounds, then turns off to save batteries. There are a lot of sound generators… This is just the one I prefer for my needs.

Images: 1) Tea for one, 2) Lunch with Rita Petteys of Yarn Hollow (handpainted yarns t& fibers, she dyed the yarns for both of my Knitty sock Designs – Crystal and Sunberry), 3) My backyard balcony view in Montreal, 4&5) Me teaching a crowd.

Melancholy on Fathers’ Day

Monday, June 17th, 2013

My father, Verling (VC) “Pete” Troldahl, died on June 30, 1973. He was 40. I was 14.

This is still a tragedy 40 years later. It is the one biggest event in my life that has molded me.

I do not take relationships for granted. I say “I love you” a lot, even to friends.

My tendency to talk to strangers? Daddy, too. My loud voice? Daddy, too.

My love of singing harmony? I remember Daddy sitting down with me & a hymnal, teaching me how to sing a 2nd part. It was MAGIC. I still remember where I sat, what the room looked like when I finally understood harmony. What a gift.

It was hard not having him there for my New York debut in 2006. That was my childhood goal, to sing in NYC. at least Mom was there (she paid for scores of voice lessons).

My fascination with other cultures? Daddy brought international students home for holidays, particularly Thanksgiving. They told stories of war & being a child inside a country at war. In my isolated academic community, I knew the world was bigger (and less “safe”) than my own circle.

Fathers’ Day is hard for those of us without our fathers, no matter why. Hugs to those in this unhappy fraternity.

Patternfish Rocks! Striped Summer Socklet Sells.

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

I woke up to an email from Patternfish (Julia Grunau). They sold 45 copies of my Summer Striped Socklets in 3 weeks. Julia, when I see you at TNNA (trade show in June), I’m going to hug you for at least 45 seconds! You’ll be gasping for air when I’m done.

Summer Striped Socklets by ColorJoy LynnH

(Actually, the reason it sold so well was that Gayle Clow, the Patternfish Newsletter Editor, featured my socklet in her May newsletter. Somehow I missed seeing that newsletter when it arrived in my inbox. Maybe it was worth it for the surprise I got today.)

Summer Striped Socklet HeelIt’s a fun pattern with a variation on my Crystal Heel. Here is the Patternfish page for my design:
http://www.patternfish.com/patterns/6153

The pattern has a toe-up square start (a Bosnian Toe variation) with swirl increases. The heel is a variation on my Crystal Heel, also with swirls… decreases this time. It’s a fun knit. My test knitter for this project, Emily, decided to reverse her colors on the 2nd sock for more fun. I loved it, of course!

Thank you to Julia and Gayle of Patternfish for the chance to soar. Thanks to every single knitter who has considered knitting this project. I appreciate you all.

I make a living selling one pattern at a time, friends. One class at a time, one concert at a time, one retreat at a time. Every single time someone chooses my work, I am grateful. THANK YOU to everyone who ever purchased anything in my lineup of offerings. It’s a good life, thanks to your support.

 

Goodbye Party for Yarn bOMb at MSU

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Local Lansing, Michigan friends… it’s time to take the sweaters off the trees at Michigan State University. They are warm enough and want to grow again.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go visit our ColorJoyful Yarn bOMb page and smile.

Will you join us tomorrow/Saturday, May 4? We will meet at the garden around 11am (stragglers welcome). Link to Map, for Horticultural Gardens (Children’s garden parking… free on weekends. We hope nobody will park there for graduation.)

We will un-sew the “ace bandages” around the trees so we can wash them and reuse them in later projects. I expect it willtake a few hours.

When we’re done I’m buying a round of tea/coffee at a local gathering place. We’ll either go to Chapelure (the closest), Wanderer’s Teahouse, or Gone Wired/The Avenue. They are all locally owned.

Cry not, because we have more Yarn bOMb projects in the wings. A semi-secret smaller one is planned for Memorial Day… stay tuned.

You Guys Rock!

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Oh, my! What fun it has been to listen to strong music by strong women this week. You guys really were fun, bringing me music from the 60s to today.

Diana/Otterwise sent me a link to 25 Women (most young) rocking it today. I only knew a few of the names. It’s amazing and inspiring. Maybe you want to check it out, also? 25 Women Who Rock Right Now – Spinner

I still want to collect a Pat Benatar song or several, but she’s not on iTunes. I relate, as a musician who has struggled with the current system of music licensing, that someone might make that choice. I’ll get her some way or another. Meanwhile, I put her on my list because she is who started this thought process.

I’m sort of amazed at how many ways a “strong woman sound” might record. Dolly Parton, Nancy Sinatra, Sister Sledge and Joan Jett on the same list? Cool. And for most of you, the Carpenters might not fit, but it was their album I first purchased, the first band I was in love with. They are pure vocals. It was hard to find an upbeat song in their catalog, but Top of the World is truly happy and so I chose that one.

It turned into more of a “beat-full, tush-shaking, house-cleaning songs sung by women” but I’m really enjoying it just the way it is. My iTunes says the playlist is between 1 and 2 hours long. That’s enough time to get some work done, and not get bored if I have it on repeat. Yeah!

I’ve had a great day or two. Thank you very much for playing this game with me.

Here’s my Playlist:

  • ABBA – Take a Chance on Me
  • Adele – Rolling in the Deep
  • Alanis Morissette – Hand in my Pocket
  • the Bangles – Manic Monday, Walk like an Egyptian
  • Laura Branigan – Turn the Beat Around
  • Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – What I am, Nothing
  • The Carpenters – Top of the World
  • Tracy Chapman – One Good Reason
  • Sheryl Crow – All I Wanna Do (is Have Some Fun)
  • Karla DeVito – Is this a Cool World or What?
  • Heart – Magic Man
  • Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – I Love Rock & Roll
  • Katrina & the Waves – Walking on Sunshine
  • Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi
  • Dolly Parton – 9 to 5
  • the Pointer Sisters – I’m so Excited
  • Pretenders (Chrissie Hynde) – Brass in Pocket
  • Helen Reddy – I am Woman
  • Linda Ronstadt – You’re No Good
  • Carly Simon – You’re So Vain
  • Nancy Sinatra – These Boots are Made for Walkin’
  • Sister Sledge – We are Family
  • Donna Summer – She Works Hard for the Money
  • Shania Twain – Man! I Feel like a Woman!

I think I’m ready for a work day! Thanks so much!