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Archive for December 18th, 2007

It’s All about People

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

A Digression from the Usual Blog

Here it is, that cold-weather hard-living time again. Despite the lyrics to most of the holiday songs… about warm fires, and all that… many of us do not have ideal holiday seasons. Every person has challenges at times, and for those who are facing them during this time of year, the contrast can be difficult.

Holidays are tough stuff for folks who don’t have “the most wonderful time of the year” sort of life. I recall that my first marriage broke up in December, requiring me to change my holiday routine after 16 years. I got word tonight that a family friend, lost her husband recently with very little warning. I tell you, having had quite a few losses in my life, this stuff is even harder at holiday times.

I like to keep this blog mostly cheerful, but it seems to me that admitting the challenge allows us the freedom to re-adjust our expectations of ourselves. This is the perfect time to re-evaluate and set ourselves up to succeed in the upcoming several weeks of holiday mayhem.

Even if it’s not the loss of a loved one, a big change in life (planned or not), a health issue or two, any stress seems bigger when the media is screaming at us that things are (or should be) perfect for the month of December, anyway. We can choose to disagree with the messages.

joybug.jpgFocus on Friends & Family

The good part of this time of year is the reconnecting with folks I don’t see much. Those gatherings which bring us together right when we don’t want to leave our warm homes, are probably good in many ways. But even vacation can bring stress.

I know that when I worked a desk job, I would have to work extra hours before we had days off, in order to make sure that the required work got done on the required schedule. Often those hours were unpaid. Often I got sick after the holiday was over, from pushing too hard before.

Stephanie/Yarn Harlot posted yesterday about giving up on expectations when the winter weather, a family loss, and a minor injury sort of made “Plan A” impossible. Instead they opened their home to a gathering. They made cookies and enjoyed friends and family.

Focus/Purpose

You know, I think that through all the losses and sadnesses I’ve had, some of which were at holidays, I have had to learn what mattered most to me. What I have figured out is that in the end, only the people we love, the people in our circle, the folks who make our lives special… those folks are the essence of living on this earth. Or that is what it seems to me. Blood relatives or “family of choice,” it’s all essential.

With love-relationship losses, friendships take on a much larger meaning. Sometimes there are few friends left when things have been rough a long time. I’m doing what I can to be a support to a friend in this sort of situation right now.

Whenever I have a loss, particularly when someone dies and leaves my life permanently, I need to sit quietly and re-connect with my own truth. That those I love are *IT* for me. That all the worries I seem to embrace every day, the things I try to do, the expectations I put on myself, the running in circles… none of those matter as much as telling someone I love them. If I can re-learn this focus each time I feel loss, then the loss is not a total loss.

Yes, I need to work so that I pay my way in this world. I am not in danger of ignoring my basic obligations. However, relationship is the cement which pulls my world together.

Saying Love Out Loud

I understand that there are many cultures where people do not speak out loud the words “I love you.” I understand that acting loving is truly more important than speaking love and not acting it. Personally, I hope I do both. I know I surprise friends at times by saying goodbye with an “I love you, seeya later.”

I hope that when I’m gone, people remember how much I loved, how much I embraced living. Neither how many pairs of socks I knit nor how I used the floor in my house as a “horizontal storage unit” are important. My true success is in the relationships.

Staying Connected

I recently had lunch with a friend from first grade. That time together was delicious, more so than the food. I still keep in touch with two folks from elementary school, plus a church school friend from approximately middle school.

These relationships are important to me, though I do not see them often enough nor correspond enough. The connection and history are something not everyone has, and I know it. It’s interesting to me that all three of these people read my blog, at least occasionally. What an honor!

At Schuler Books Sunday, my Goddaughter Sara came to hear us play for a good portion of the concert. She is in her 3rd year of college… an age when so many young folks get too busy for the older folks in their lives. I am deeply honored that she chooses to stay connected with me, and we have dinner together when she has breaks between terms and comes back home.

Letting Go of Impossible Dreams

Today I spent a bunch of time knitting on a gift I’d wanted to present to a friend this week. I was trying to “make it up on the needles” and the fabric looks gorgeous… but I just did not cast on enough stitches for it to work as I wanted. I will need to rip it all out and start over.

I could get all flipped out about this delay. I think if I had not spent a whole day indoors relaxing and trying to regain ground on this sinus bug I’ve been fighting, I might have started freaking out.

Instead, I looked at the piece many times over several hours to figure out where I stood. I decided that it just was not going to work that way, decided that later is the only time I can do that… and decided that the special coffee and tea and hot chocolate I got this friend is gift enough. That I can make the large knitted item any time at all.

A Small Solution if I Choose

So just because I want to make her something, I’m going to see how long it takes me to knit a felted bowl from the One Skein book by Leigh Radford. I love these bowls. I’ll be doing a special book promotion event for Schuler Books at East Towne mall on February 28, and I want to have tried a few of the projects in the book before that day arrives.

I’m relatively sure I can do a bowl in a day or two with other distractions. So I will hope to add the bowl to the comfort package I’m making for this friend, ***if I have time.***

Because worrying is not what life is about (although I seem to practice it daily). I’m really good at worrying but that is not what I want to spend effort perfecting. I want to perfect my friendships and acquaintances. Or at least shine them up as well as they deserve.

Input?

How are you doing with keeping whatever balance you choose (or not) this time of year? How do you keep relationship important in the middle of too many appointments, parties, events, concerts, gifts to buy, overtime to keep work flowing, and the inevitable germs that take residence just at the wrong time?

What advice would you give to others? What advice do you need from others? In my case, getting this bug/cold/sinus thing made me slow down. I hate to admit that I’m grateful, but just maybe I am.

Photo? Speaking of relationships… in Michigan this year everyone who had the “old” style license plates was forced to get new ones. Brian decided that I really needed to have personalized plates, bless his heart. I always thought that they were extra-appropriate on a bug, but I’m relatively frugal with repeating expenses and never took the plunge.

He had me check for LynnH first, but it was taken. My car’s name is Joy (it was named that in 1999, before I had a business named ColorJoy). I always wanted plates saying Joy Bug. So Brian made it happen. How sweet he is!!! He loves my colorful nature, he likes my artfulness. He is the biggest gift I could ask for. And then he gifts me with Joy Bug plates. Awwww.