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Archive for August 2nd, 2010

Moments when Reality Shifts

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I have talked before about author Barbara Winter of the Joyfully Jobless blog (and book Making a Living without a Job). Today she posted a blog entry called “Things I Haven’t Told You.”

LynnDTHershbergerPublicityPhotoforweb12.5I got to thinking… what my mind jumped to was telling a story yesterday (at Maker Faire). I was a computer consultant and discovered that one could knit her own socks. For me, that was a defining moment in my own personal history. I knew my life would change, and it did.

I am fond of saying “One can not buy passion.” It sort of explains how I am in this business. My computer business was enjoyable and paid well, though it fizzled out after Y2K passed. My knitting/singing/art business is about passion. I wake up dreaming that I am knitting. It is all about that excitement that can not be purchased.

Going back, I remember several moments which I will never forget. These moments changed my life in some way. The best of them include a picture in my mind of how the room looked, how I felt, sometimes how I stopped in mid-step to drink in the experience. Some of them:

  • I melottfestheftoneswas maybe 9 or 10 years old, and my family took a trip across Lake Michigan on the “Milwaukee Clipper.” There was a musical ensemble in one room for entertainment. One guy was playing a drum set, including a snare drum with brushes. I had to be pried away from watching him.
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    However when it came time to play in band, I knew not to ask. Girls did not play drums in my community in 1969. I asked to play flute, which had intrigued me since Mrs. Gibbs played one for us in 3rd grade. My father gave me two choices, trumpet or clarinet. He played trumpet and I did not want to “match.” I never liked clarinet. I quit as soon as I was allowed.
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    Interestingly, though… I was always great at reading rhythms on sheet music. Notes were much harder. As an adult I took a private hand-drum lesson and the instructor indicated that I took to it easily. Arthritis in my fingers means I did not pursue it further, but I felt good to find that out. Now, I play Heftone bass. It’s a rhythm instrument that is kind to my hands. In the end I sort of got what I wanted, all along.
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    Not long after I started with clarinet, Karen Carpenter came on the scene, playing a drum set. She also had a beautiful voice. She was my hero.
  • I was in 10th grade. Our church youth director, Lynn Grimes (now a retired United Methodist minister) was from Detroit. Our town was decidedly low on diversity and not at all like a big city. She decided to take our whole youth group to Toronto. There were 15 kids, Lynn and her husband. We had an amazing time. For me, I found out that there were places not like home, where there was more diversity, more visual stimulation, more everything. It was intoxicating.
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    Lynn made sure we saw things we could never see in 1975 suburbia. We rode the subway. We went to a Hungarian restaurant and a Chinese one in Chinatown where lots of people did not speak English. The food was unlike anything near home.
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    We went to fine museums, both the Royal Ontario and the Science Center (a new concept at the time).  And I spent a whole weekend taking photographs pointing straight up, at the skyscrapers. I fell in love with cities. Now I collect cities  (and especially their subway/transit systems). Photo is the Eaton Centre, a multi-story mall in Toronto.
  • I was 27 years old in the sad part of my adult life… cleaning house alone one night, playing the radio for company. I think it was Bob Blackman’s Folk Tradition show on WKAR/MSU. He played a cut from Paul Simon’s Graceland album, singing with Ladysmith Black Mombazo (I believe the cut was Homeless).
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    I literally stopped  in my tracks, turned up the volume, and sat right there on the floor in front of the speakers, transfixed. I knew virtually nothing about Africa at that time, but it was like finding home. That much vocal beauty at one time knocked me over with a feather, so to speak. I’m still in love with that sound.
  • I took a feltmaking workshop on the recommendation of Nancy McRay, around 2000. It was wonderful, and my hands remembered how wool made me feel good, to touch it.Looking for wool supplies online, I somehow found myself on the www.socknitters.com website. I was blown away. I had not imagined that someone could make their own socks! I could feel in my gut at that moment, that my life was going to change.
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    As a child of the 70’s (Twiggy, rainbow toe socks, laugh in), I loved bright colored socks, preferred wool, and had small enough feet that bright colored wool socks were impossible to find for me. I literally had over 80 pairs of socks in my sock drawer, when I found out one could knit one’s own socks. None of them were a)wool, b)bright colored, and c)small enough to fit properly. Most had two of those three attributes.
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    So there it was: I could make my own socks. I was working on a rather complex database project for a computer client at the time. I knew if I went to the yarn shop before finishing, I might not get the project done on deadline. The minute I turned in that project, I headed over to the only yarn shop in town at the time.
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    Ruth was working that day. I told her I had only knit scarves for 20 years and had played with purls a little, but not in any finished project. I was determined to make socks.
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    She did not flinch. She helped me find some DK-weight yarn and double-pointed needles, and instructions for making my socks. I went home, and somehow I had a pair of socks 10 days later (photo at right). And the rest, is my current life/livelihood…

Perhaps you would like to tell me a moment like this, from your own life? In the comments? I would love to hear. I think these moments do help us know who we are on the inside.