Skipping the Magical Holiday

It’s almost that time! The most magical day of  the year! The best day, which falls in dreary February, brightening the life of all women….

Half Price Chocolate Day! (no, not Valentine’s Day, silly reader.)

However, this year I am going to be abstaining from my favorite of the minor holidays. Because this year, I am going to do a health challenge.

I’ve needed to get my health back on track, this we have discussed. I’m not Catholic, but growing up, my family observed the “Giving up something for Lent” process. And this year, I’ve decided that I’m going to do it again. It’s an accepted time period to do these kinds of challenges, which makes the explaining of things easier, and it’s tied to something ingrained in my life, which I feel will help fool my brain into actually getting this done.

So, from February 14 until April 1, I’m challening myself to give up processed sugar, all dairy, and to eat as much “whole, real food” as possible. To get my lifestyle change jumpstarted, and to get all of the lingering cravings out of my system.

Dairy is especially important to cut, as I’ve found that I’m actually allergic to dairy, which means that it is actively impedeing the process of healing from my ulcers. I read an article over the weekend that the University of Michigan has completed research that said cheese sets off the same receptors in the brain as opioids, which to me means that I need to be very diligent about getting that aspect of my health on track. 

I’m looking forward to taking this step, and checking back in on how I’m doing over the next 40-some days.

Are you doing any health challenges in the near future?


Belated New Year, Belated New Me

My mother has threatened, on many occassions, to cross stitch me a sampler that says “Someday, when I have my sh*t together!” Apparently, this is something that I say more than I even realize. While my entire work life is designed around working a week into the future, in my personal life I am almost always behind. It’s a work in progress.

So, I did not get my life together in time for the traditional new year. I’m still working on figuring out how I want to manage things in this coming year, to be honest. Work changes have added a lot of stress, as well as illness and lots of extra work. (which has been good for my debt repayment, truth be told)

I’m thinking about doing a mini challenge for myself over the 40 days prior to Easter – I feel like it might be a good time to refocus. To really work on being a better version of myself. (and the fact that I still have two whole weeks to plan my life is somewhat appealing!)

What have you been doing to build a better you this year?

October is my favorite season. 

I love October. The weather (when it cooperates), the Halloween decorations… it makes me unreasonably happy. It’s also when I purchase most of my house decorations. 

White ceramic skull with gold filigree next to a flower arrangement.
Like this little number right here.

This side table is right across from my favorite seat in the house, so it’s always visible. I’ve already decided that this skull is going to stay up year round. I may reconsider if having it all the time makes it feel less special, but I don’t think that will be the case. 

The new budget has severely curtailed my October decoration spending, which is a little sad this year. But there will always be more Halloweens, and plenty more skulls and witchy things to add to my collection. At the rate my first line of credit is being paid down, I can hardly complain. It’s been extremely gratifying to watch that number continue to drop. 

So now you know my guilty pleasure is cute-ish skull related things. What tempts you to break the budget?

Wine isn’t self care, apparently.

Over the summer, work was hard. Really hard. My boss was promoted, meaning they weren’t available most of the time (but still wanted to be heavily involved in decision making for the office). Two of my staffers quit. I was trying to keep the entire area afloat during our busy season, and all of us were super stressed out.

This is probably when my ulcers started. It’s also definitely when my adrenal fatigue reared its ugly head.

Previously, my go-to self care technique was a glass of wine. Or whiskey. Or a gin and tonic. Or beer. You get the idea.

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She obviously is judging my drinking. (used with permission)

It got to the point where I was drinking way, way too much.

I am horrible at self care. I had no idea what I should do to help lower my stress and my drinking. Finally, after a crazy amount of Googling and Facebook crowd-sourcing, I decided on two tactics: meditation, and scheduling some self care tasks for myself.

The meditation I went crazy with- I’m pretty sure I downloaded eight different phone apps trying to find the one I liked best. For me, I preferred an American accent on my speakers, so Calm and 10% Happier were the two I settled on. And let me say, Calm’s sleep stories are a godsend when the mind just won’t shut up! Later, when I couldn’t access them at work due to some weird firewall thing, I added Meditation Studio to the mix.

I also used an app called Routines (iPhone only, sadly) to set up reoccurring items that I needed to do each day, so that I could build better habits.

This ended up helping, but was no replacement for the slight improvement to the work situation that occurred this fall. Between the two, I’m starting to feel like my life is marginally under control again. It’s a nice feeling, and one I hope to continue to build on.

And in the meantime, if you have any self-care tips and tricks, please share in the comments!

It Begins

It’s been quite a long time. I fell away from trying to blog. However, based on new information, I obviously need to work on blogging more.
The whole story started, really, with an emergency room trip. The only time I’d ever been to one before had been for one of several falls – sprained ankles that might have had a broken bone.

This one was for a great deal of abdominal pain. Several months (and quite a hefty medical bill later), the diagnosis comes back as ulcers. Work has been stressful. Life has been stressful. The stress had manifested in a very real, painful way.

So I’m having to, essentially, start over with how my life works, exactly. First of all, no more dairy, which is a pretty terrible fate. I’m overweight, so I need to work on that. And somehow, I need to lower stress. This involves developing better coping mechanisms for work and personal stress, and getting my budget back in order.

About the only thing that I’m getting to keep unscathed is my Netflix account, and my knitting!

So, please feel free to join me as I try to figure all of this out!

Blessed Spring!

The first day of spring is finally here! While it’s chilly today, I’m one of the lucky ones that did not receive snow, so there’s that to be thankful for. This winter has been the type that required so much energy to function through, and I’m looking forward to coming out of this weather coma and enjoying my city again.

The baby blanket marathon continues. One complete (but for weaving ends and blocking), and the second has begun. At the rate I’m going, I’m optimistic that the blankets will greet each of their recipients. This pleases me, because I hate being late, although I will often resign myself to that fact.

Divorce, on the other hand, moves slowly. The actual legal business is done, and now I have reached the endless process of a name change. It’s strange, how much of a difference a different name makes. I feel more removed from that portion of my life, because after all, that was a completely different person!

My current frustration lies, however, in the movement of the bills. Many things in the old house were in my name, and he has taken his dear time in switching them – painting me as a nag and an evil ex when I ask for updates. It is his life after all – even if these things are using my name in the meantime.

Soon, however, it will be done. And then I will have no further ties to that place. Small blessings, indeed.

So many babies!

Four babies are entering my friend group, and so the last few weeks my time has been swamped with baby blankets!

I favor a nice, simple pattern for baby blankets, so that’s left a lot of time for navel gazing and introspection. January has always been a difficult time of the year  for me, and this year has been no different. So, for the meantime, I will knit away, and count the rows, that turn to days, that turn to spring.

I’m looking forward to it.

Knitting hibernation

There is something incredibly decadent and satisfying about canceling everything on your to-do list, sitting at home and knitting with fabulous yarn.

I knit as active meditation, and as exercise for my hands (blasted early-onset arthritis), so I have never bothered to try and develop speed. This has been really problematic only during the three month Christmas present sprint I tend to do each year. Otherwise, the slow rhythm of knitting is exceptionally comforting to me.

After such a tumultuous week, it was heaven to sit down with a skein of decadent yarn and whip out a cowl. I am ball-winding challenged, and ended up with my hank in quite the gordian knot, but once I got all untangled, I was good to go.

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This is out of the Lorna’s delightful hand-dyed yarns in Vera, working into the crazy quick Garland Cowl. I edited out some rows, due to concerns about the amount of yarn I actually had. Since I’m a tight knitter, I also upgraded to size 13 needles. I wanted it to be a bit airy.

It traveled with me a bit, as you can see from game night in the background. It also was able to field trip to my favorite craft brewery, where I was able to catch up with a friend as I sewed in the ends.

This week, it’s been terribly cold. Not polar vortex cold (only due to lack of wind, though), and such extremes takes a toll on my mood. Although it desperately needs to be blocked, I decided to wear my new accessory anyway. The pink brightens the day, and it made me happy to wear such a lovely, happy piece of my own work.

Unexpected Endings


One week ago, I learned that my former father-in-law passed away.

For eleven years, he had been a part of my life. He was the one member of my ex-husband’s family who never judged, never spoke a harsh word. When I left, he quietly kept in contact, including me on his email list of jokes (of which there were many). He made a point of reaching out to me occasionally, to let me know he still cared – that I was still family to him.

He had grown up Jewish, and married outside his faith. While the family celebrated several of the holidays, I felt very strongly that any children I might have should know their heritage, and so I threw myself into learning about the faith of my husband’s ancestors. It bonded my father-in-law and I – we never discussed it, but I felt like it made him happy to have this part of his family honored. For eleven years, I lit Hannukah candles with my father-in-law in mind. I stumbled over transliterated Hebrew, and boiled eggs for the Seder plate. I grew to deeply love the ceremony and the history of the religion. Even after leaving, I cast bread into the river near work for Rosh Hashana, and I thought of him, and his family, and the beautiful legacy that he was trying to pass on to his son, and the children we never had.

He built things that helped us see the stars. He built things that helped us see the earth. He told amazing stories, such as the time he and his college buddies changed the Hollywood sign without touching it, and rewired traffic lights, and all sorts of shenanigans that imaginative engineering students get into. He was vibrant, and brilliant, and hilarious, and so very kind. He rescued cats, and supported the library and tried very hard to burn bratwurst because he knew that’s how I liked them from the grill (even though he was incapable of burning things).

Three weeks ago, my divorce was finalized, and I started a new beginning. I left behind the last name that, for a while, I shared with this amazing man. With the stamp of the notary, this man was legally no longer related to me. Today, while we always say we’re not divorcing that family, I feel that I have little claim over this grief that I am experiencing. There is a hole in my life, and I feel like it is not mine to have. In my new role of ex-daughter-in-law, I have no idea how to grieve. I want to craft a memorial for him that exemplifies the man he was, but I have no right to that any longer.

So instead, I’ll say the mourner’s kaddish for him. Because I know his son, my ex-husband, will not. Because he deserves it. Because he would appreciate it, butchered Hebrew and all.

Starting Over

I knit. I hesitate to say that I’m a knitter, because that makes it sound like I create amazing fiber things in a timely manner. My knitting is slow, contemplative. It’s an active meditation. It’s a way of surrounding myself with a fiber hug and a lap of cats when nothing else will do.

In knitting, sometimes, when you have a project that is just terrible. You hate the pattern, or the yarn isn’t right or any other numbers of things aren’t lining up, you have no choice but to pull the piece apart, so that you can start over. This is called “frogging.”

Two years ago, after much deliberation, I decided that the fabric of my life was not right. The yarn wasn’t working for me, so to speak, and I hated the pattern that I had forced myself into. So I pulled it apart. To the basic elements of me.

I spent the first year wallowing. Making no-so-awesome choices. Thinking. And knitting. I spent the second year trying to identify who I was, and who I wanted to be.

This year, I’m starting to find my way back. I’m ready to get the yarn of myself back on the needles, and I’m ready to choose a new pattern for my life.