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Archive for June, 2013

Closed Doors

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I’ll write another post about them opening, but for now I want to notice the click, the squeak, the hinge bend, slowly, quickly, slamming, gently, softly shutting doors.

I was searching for something to write and looked up to a movie my husband was watching; I don’t know what it was, but briefly on screen was a white door with a black knocker; the front of an old suburban home. There was no one on screen, and the door, only partially open softly clicked shut. It struck a chord for some reason. The finality of a goodbye.

I gather many doors close through the years – many, many; maybe a million times. How many times have you shut a door in a lifetime? Shutting a door is always a transition small or large. It signifies the end of something, and too, the beginning. End getting kids ready to school, begin getting them there.  Walk out on fight with partner. Walk out permanently. Struggle to close a door behind you carrying luggage for a trip. Lots of car doors closing.  Bedroom doors and bathroom doors; bathroom doors are full of emotion;  hiding embarrassed sickness or cleansing life’s dirt, maybe the only refuge for the day. Neighbors doors, friends doors, not so good of friend doors, screen doors that always seem to swing too quickly behind you, sliding doors that don’t slide on their tracks, patio doors to the outside; to the inside, apartment doors.  Leaving someone who is in trouble; closing the door behind with only the words you said, the hugs you gave left to comfort them. Closing the door on my son’s dorm room; the sudden bereftness. Remembering quietly closing the door when he was small and napping, small and sick, small and exhausted from the fair. Closing the door to the vacation home by the sea for the last time. Did I ever pay attention to a door unless it was the last time.  I can still feel the handles, see the carved outlines and know forever the worn weight of “last time” doors.

I wonder how many doors can I picture from the time I was a little girl, time before time if I took the time. I don’t really remember a door until I was five or so – the door I was busting to get into to. It was a locked duplex, we lived upstairs, the little dog was biting my heels, and I wasn’t supposed to cross the street where the little dog chased me from. It was a double edged sword, but fear won out, regardless of the possible chastisement help was needed.

I closed a car door on my finger once. That was a trip and a half. I had to shut the door further before I could unlock it and free my finger.

There’s figurative doors that shut that I’ve either pounded on to get back in until I got my way, or walked away dejectedly to try another day, or leave behind all together. Maybe thinking about doors we have closed or have been closed on us is a way to affirm the life we have chosen.

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It seems without knowing it I stumbled on to a healing technique: Knitting. A google search brought me to two articles: http://www.knitonthenet.com/issue4/features/therapeuticknitting/ 

and 

http://www.naturalsuburbia.com/2013/01/guest-post-why-knitting-is-good-for-us-by-melisa-neilsen.html .

I don’t want to poach on what they have already said but a statement said by the latter stood out to me: “with each knitting session I could  almost feel my brain stitching itself back together.” Wow. YES!

 

Last August I began to knit. I had some needles and yarn from a fruitless, years ago knitting exploration. It just so happens it involved 5 DPN’s (double pointed needles) to knit a four-sided tarot bag for my son. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just knit – fearlessly. I didn’t care about the mistakes or if it was perfect. I was just knitting for me. You learn to rip back sooner than later to fix glaring mistakes. ImageThere is a life lesson there. 

 

I didn’t know I would fall in love with color and texture, Image with the beauty of yarns and the differences in needles – and oh my, there are so many, and to my surprise can turn into a very expensive habit. You save like the dickens for that set of interchangeable needles that you love so much, for that yarn that you just have to try. I fell hard for the rhythm of building one stitch upon another. I didn’t know it was healing my mind. 

 

There is a concentration involved in learning anything new, but knitting different projects begins that concentration anew every time. It’s a built in Mindfulness tool. For one who could never meditate Knitting was the solution. Oh, but it is not all perfect in paradise.  Knitting can also be frustrating.

 

I learned that knitting brought forth a colorful array of swear words on occasion, and recently on a particularly hard knitting pattern, after thousands of stitches, I buried the unfinished knitting project deep in my knitting box. And I wasn’t particularly gracious about it!

 

I’ve made friendships with others across the world through knitting. The common thread (ha) seems to tie us together and to our lives. We laugh at the antics of cats that have found and terrorized our knitting balls, at children running through the house tangled in yarn and of a satisfaction of friends and family enjoying the fruits of our labor. 

 

I fond solution to still my mind, to give it time to breathe. Knitting has distracted me from the chronic pain of RA and has got me through many a tuff day. I’ve learned a new language: ptbl, k2tog, ssk, among many all put together in a pattern by a designer who fell in love too. With the Internet now it’s possible for anyone to learn to knit. I will include a couple of sites at the end of this post. 

 

As with any relationship or any artistic endeavor there are ups and downs. Exciting fruitful times and fallow periods. In knitting circles there are very definite opinions about needles, and even those with  a wee bit of a superiority complex, those that are perfectionist, but mostly it’s a kind hearted forgiving crowd, many that give advice and nurture the newbie along. You find groups that watch television shows while knitting – surprisingly a lot of sci-fi fans. Two groups I like are the “Downton Abby” crowd and the “Once Upon a Time” fans. We dig for the patterns worn on these shows. And are excited when another finishes a project. 

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Knitting is a great Patience instructor. There is nothing like casting on your new knitting project, but one row does not a project make. You have to finish what you start. Another lesson learned. KAL’s (knit alongs) are great for keeping one going when a project gets to that middle part and finishing seems a long way off. Knitting begets patience at the doctors office, or anywhere else I have to wait. Suddenly I’m not looking at the clock or wondering what the hell is taking so long. I just knit, happy with the yarn gliding in and out of my fingers, needles warm in my hands watching the pattern do it’s magic. 

 

http://www.knittinghelp.com

http://www.techknitting.blogspot.com

http://verypink.com

http://www.purlbee.com

 

http://www.yarn.com

http://www.theloopyewe.com

http://www.eatsleepknit.com

http://www.knitpicks.com

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I wanted to check in and say hello, to tell you that though it seems like nothing is going on in my life – I think much as changed. After terrifying and tragic events they say:”what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Well, my body made a stab at death with a breast cancer diagnosis. It was more of a warning: take better care of yourself. It was a small cancer semi-easly taken out by a lumpectomy. Rheumatoid Arthritis has told me the intense prolonged stress compromised my immune system permanently.  So, it didn’t kill me – but it sure effed with my life – sort of. 😉

Do you know what MadelineTosh yarn is? Neither did I. It’s a beautiful, hand-dyed, soft yarn. It slips like butter through your fingers when you knit with it. This is a small and simple pleasure. It requires authenticity about who I am, who I want to be. Yes, others lives can look exciting, perhaps fuller – but do they have mine? My kids (oh, goodness, my beautiful, awesome sons)? Do they have slow nights watering the outdoor plants with a husband, enjoying the daily visit of the hummingbird at dusk while we play just s simple game of cribbage and listening to Pandora – sometimes a CCR station, sometimes a Coldplay, sometimes my new favorite: Florence+TheMachine? That’s my life. That’s what makes me content. I’m not chasing after dreams anymore. I’m living life on life’s terms. I can’t speak to anyone else. I don’t know them. Though I do know too many women are driven by other women’s achievements and lifestyles. Pretensions give the ego a boost. Inside fear will do that. Strip that away and you have the rawness of you.

I stopped the plethora of self-help books, I stopped the self-flagellation of getting to the gym, I stopped feeling guilty for eating. I stopped. When I finally brought my head up and looked around I saw life different. It was like x-ray vision. Everyone’s faults were glaringly obvious. I knew on some level it was my own faults be reflected back. So, large because after all was stripped away I had only myself to face, to befriend. Those faults would be my my first lessons, the Grace that was so freely given during crisis was hidden, lost. Every fiber of my being was screaming ‘no’ to life. I did not want it anymore. I hated what happened to me and hatred as a way multiplying quickly. My hatred & envy, contempt & cynicism took over. Some would say the Devil. I would say when you are full of resentment and ego it is a dance with the devil: and it darkens your soul has nothing else can.

Loss and grief don’t just bring out the best in you, they have contemporaries that one wants to deny – after all reading all the books of other survivors one must be a stoic, a positive force for change. I didn’t know that after the purging a mirror would be held up; and though the first thing I would see was the best of me, the worst of me was there too and the full force of those awful demons would confuse me for 2 years.

I used to be a borderline atheist – some say crisis makes you believe what you need to to survive. Maybe. Maybe your world gets so small that you finally see what has been there all along. You see the neters, the lights, the millions of sub-atomic particles that wave through your body every milli-second. You feel Grace in a big way. You know something besides coincidence as happened – and you doubt you’ll ever be able to explain it to anyone; but you know undeniably, forever there is something besides you there.

Crisis opens you up, it tears you apart and rebuilds. The destruction is complete and utter. The darkness long and unimaginable. The light small and slow to come. And for awhile there is not even Hope to hang onto. Waves of lowness that take your breath away and leave you feeling more lonely that you ever thought possible. Sometimes you pray, sometimes you damn God, sometimes there is nothing. The ‘Grace’ is even when you have given up, your body doesn’t. Strength grows despite yourself; unconsciously.

I’m no longer raw and wounded (well, maybe still a little on the latter) – But by saying “yes” to life again tells me I have started to deal with those demons, those shadows. It urns out they won’t be exorcised. Turns out they can’t be ignored or shamed or stomped out; turns out I have to love them despite my judgement that they are wicked – that some how they make me “a bad person”.

So, 3 years, 3 months later I’m consciously choosing to say “yes” to life again. And with no rules from the past to guide or obstruct me anymore, I honestly don’t know what that means – but somehow I think it has to do with peace of heart.

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