In today’s highly connected, technological world, it is so easy to become discouraged. Social media creates the illusion that, it seems, there is a life out there we are not only missing out on, but that none of us can ever live up to. It is a conundrum for me. I enjoy engaging with folks who have similar interests as I do; I love sharing what I am doing; but I detest the inevitable discontent it breeds.
I am a creative person and all of my hobbies, in my mind, become possible business opportunities. I allow this mindset to suck the joy right out of everything I do. I am constantly pursuing validation through the work of my hands.
This morning I read this verse:
God in heaven appoints each person’s work.
No, I don’t believe God finds us our next job. But I know that we are all created with a certain set of abilities, gifts and talents along with the personality to use these things for good. In my case I am a nurturer. Though I never became the teacher or the mommy I always wanted to be, but all of the strengths needed for both of those were put to work in every area of my life.
I became a medical assistant so I could work in a doctor’s office; several years later I became a licensed nurse which led to working as a school nurse. I stopped working and came home when my step daughter’s mother died and I was needed here. That led to many years of nurturing her and then her children. And now, we have our oldest granddaughter living with us as she navigates her place in the world.
At sixty-four I spend much time analyzing where I’ve been as I look to where I might go next. It is clear to me that God appointed me as a caregiver to the next generation. One day when my work inside my family is done I will step out once again and care for the children and youth in need in my community. I don’t know where or how, I just know that God put that work on my heart and it will be my work for life.
May you find and know your worth and purpose; it comes from God and no one can separate you from it.
What do these things have in common? Jesus spoke about them all in the twelfth chapter of Luke. Well, he didn’t speak about me personally, rather he was speaking to his disciples. However, all who believe he is the Son of God; God made flesh who walked the earth then was persecuted and executed only to rise in three days to complete his purpose then ascended into heaven, we, too are his disciples. So what did he say?
I live with anxiety. I take medication so the symptoms are under control but my mind still can grab a hold of some thought or situation and go crazy creating scenarios that are not real. They are products of my imagination. Jesus very clearly says “Don’t be afraid. Do not worry.” So why do we live in fear?
It is one of the subjects spoken of the most in the Bible. I think it is because God knew that humanity, separate from Him, would try to survive on their own. Think of a small child who wants to venture out into the world, but is cautious; they will only go where their parent goes to keep them safe. Without God’s presence the world is a very scary place.
Sparrows & Me
Sparrows seem like happy little birds. They hop around urban areas scavenging for food and zip about in the sky from bush to bush hiding from predators. I have always taken great joy in watching sparrows go about their business.
Jesus uses sparrows to teach us how much we are loved and that God is with us always. As great teachers do, he used ordinary things to illustrate his message. Sparrows are small, prolific, commonplace and in the food chain, fairly helpless.
Maybe it is the small and helpless part of this that strikes so close to home for me. I am small and helpless – literally, I am a small person with little ability to protect myself. But I know that God loves me more than the sparrows and “the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to Him than a whole flock of sparrows.” This verse, Luke 12:7, is not the only time sparrows are used to show us how valuable we are to God. With a love like that is it no wonder that we are told over and over, “Do not worry.”
Worry = Broken Connection
Whenever I find myself worrying about the future…what I should do or where I should go, how will something work out…I know I have become disconnected. Worry comes when I have let go of Jesus’ hand and begun relying on my own knowledge and wisdom. Just like that toddler who must have their parent with them to feel safe and secure, I must stay connected to Jesus. He is my everything; he is my savior, role model, teacher, comforter and Lord. Without him my life has no value or meaning.
So, I start my day here and know that what comes next will all work for my own good no matter what that may be.
It was 51º when I got up this morning. Each year I wait patiently, or maybe not so patiently, for the first real cool front of the season. Living in a subtropical climate means this type of weather pattern is a rare and treasured event. I celebrate its arrival by opening windows and allowing as much cool, crisp fresh air indoors as possible. The only problem is, my blood is still thin – does it really get thin or is that just something we say when our bodies don’t know how to deal with the cooler temps?
Each summer I bemoan the weather because of the heat and humidity. After forty some odd years I know that the first few weeks are the the worst. As I get used to the wet blanket feeling each time I step outdoors, it doesn’t seem so bad and I go about my life. And now, the same is true for the cooler temps, but rather than bemoan, I rejoice. Cool dry temperatures put a spring in my step and suddenly everything in the world is just a little brighter. However, just like the initiation to the heat, there is an adjustment period for this season as well.
It is chilly inside the house. It takes some time for the radiant heat from the sun to warm things up in here. My hands and feet are cold, and for a brief moment I consider flipping the switch to turn on the heat. Immediately I self flagellate. To even allow such a thought to cross my mind should be criminal. So, I wait, again, but this time for the sun to rise so the temperature inside the house can climb to a comfortable 72º.
Two cups of coffee later I was still feeling chilly yet resolute in my determination to be tough, when, as I walked through my bedroom I remembered there is a solution. A practical and cozy solution: hand knit socks.
Hand Knit Socks
Warm wool socks made by me for me. Unlike mass manufactured socks, these little treasures are made just to my specifications and fit my foot perfectly. Only those of us who love socks and have experienced the joy of a hand knit sock can possibly understand.
Sock knitters have heard every clever comment from those who don’t get it and would never be gifted a pair of these treasures.
“Don’t you know you can buy those?”
“I can get a pack of six pairs for less than you spent on that yarn.”
With eyes rolling, “A sock is a sock.”
Socks are a simple necessity. They provide warmth, protection and can also be a bright and colorful fashion statement. Because of their simplicity they can also be taken for granted. My advice, try them before you reject the superiority of a sock made by hand, created to your feet’s specifications. If someone in your life loves you enough to spend the time making something to cover your feet, be kind. Wear them with an open mind. Feel the snuggle and the warmth. Remember the hands that crafted them, and be thankful. These are no small gift. They are a true demonstration of love.
A soft, filtered light streams in between the slats of the blinds, gently illuminating the room. It is quiet in here. No television. No radio. No other people. I am lulled into a state of peaceful contemplation by the sound of clothes as they roll around in the dryer, and just now the low rumble of thunder breaks through to remind me of the weather.
The remnants of a tropical Pacific storm are now moving through Texas. Gusty winds and rain have been my companions today. These are my favorite days. Alone in my thoughts with cloudy skies and rain to provide a soothing backdrop for whatever I choose to do. I cherish today as tomorrow is promised to be hot and muggy.
The wind comes in waves; tree limbs bend as water is shed from their leaves. Rain beats against the window with an ever quickening rhythm, lulling me into sweet slumber.
Necessary Rest and Diversions
I haven’t been sleeping well of late and it has taken a toll on me. So many things running through my mind and I wonder, how others seem to do it. How do some people live lives filled with just what they want and not fretting about the minutia. Because it is generally the minutia that wears me down. I carry thoughts, worries, and what ifs around like stones in a bag and then wonder why I am mentally and physically exhausted.
These days none of the usual pastimes help. Making yarn then crocheting, knitting or weaving with it used to fill the need to create and brought a calming peace to my soul. And, maybe one day it will again. But for right now all the stuff feels like a burden. A burden that needs to be set aside.
As I have written before I have had a life long love affair with books and reading. I set the activity of reading aside for many years as I was “too busy” and seemed to fall asleep every time I picked up a book. But the love for books themselves never left and I always feel a deep sense of comfort when surrounded by them. I believe that I am now entering a season in my life where reading and writing are about to take center stage in my life.
Quenching The Thirst
Of late I find myself hungry for knowledge. I want to know more, see more, experience more things. I am no longer content to sit passively by and just live in the status quo. My first reaction was, “I need to finally go to college.” And while that is a pursuit I have not ruled out, I don’t think that alone will satiate my longings.
At this moment in time, having fulfilled all the early life tasks, career, raising children and now a grandchild, we – I include my husband in this journey – are at the brink of a bold new life and I don’t want to leave any stone unturned. It is not enough to live a simple life, although that is a big portion of the goal, but to live a simple life fully. And for me that means learning, seeing, exploring and then sharing my experiences.
It means reading history and visiting places to feel the lessons from the past. Learning about the struggles of others and changing in me whatever needs to be changed to be a more loving person. It means learning new skills, eating new foods, moving forward to do those things we have only talked about for thirty years. It means living each day in a way that honors God and who He created me to be.
Do Not Fear
Fear is an ugly monster. It lives inside all of us and takes on so many different disguises. We learn to ignore, squelch and run from our fears, but until we stop, turn around and boldly face the fear monster, we are never free.
The concepts of “trust” and “do not fear” appear in scripture more than anything else. There is a reason for this. God knows we need to hear it over and over and over again. For those of you who do not believe in God, you have the same need, you simply look for your answers elsewhere. But we all have this internal anxiety.
What is my Fear Monster? Being thought of and called out as stupid, uneducated, and unworthy of an opinion. I have cowered in the face of fear and that is not the life we are called to live. I have allowed it to stop me from doing something I love and believe I’ve been given the gift to do well.
I write for the pure joy it brings me to “put pen to paper” and craft something that is funny, poignant, educational or just a personal brain dump. I don’t know that I could ever write assignment based articles. Oh, I suppose I could but they would not bring the satisfaction of sitting down to share what is happening in my head and my heart. Once complete I send my little essays off into the world to be read – or not – content that I had expressed myself. No worries about money, readership, egos, rejection letters…nope, just the satisfaction that I had completed what I set out to do. I really am a simple, low maintenance kind of person.
Who Am I?
I never noticed how often dandelions are used for logos and branding. Have you? It wasn’t until I decided that I am a dandelion in human form that I noticed dandelions, both realistic and stylized, are extremely common in branding. Trying to find a blog name containing the word dandelion that had an available URL was impossible. All the cool ones had already been taken. Don’t let the superficiality of that sentence fool you. There is a deeper meaning which I will get to a little later. Back to my personal branding.
For years I struggled to “brand” myself. In the fiber art world I have had so many social media handles many people just give up. No wonder I could never build a following. No one knew who I was going to be on any given day. My struggle was much deeper than the look and feel of my online presence. I was struggling to find me, my identity, my purpose in the world wrapped up in a cute logo with just the right pithy tag line. Funny how things work out; the harder I tried the more lost I became.
Three years ago I came across the story of a woman who continues to inspire me to this day. Trudy Smith was an artist. She had an artist’s heart and soul but didn’t live out her life’s purpose until she turned 85.
Trudy described herself as a “misfit” in her family. She didn’t fit in. She certainly didn’t conform to society’s definition of how a woman was expected to live. So she kept to herself, feeling like a weed in the middle of a flower bed. But Trudy was no ordinary weed. Is there even such a thing as an ordinary weed? Trudy knew about her passion for art but it didn’t fit, so she spent her life doing what was socially acceptable for her to do. She obeyed her father. Married a man who was much like her father in his stern nature and rigid opinion on the role of a woman, wife and mother. But when her husband died, Trudy came to life.
She picked up her paint brush and didn’t put it down until her passing in 2018, just two months short of her 103rd birthday.
“Be a weed — then you belong to everywhere or anywhere.”
To say Trudy Smith changed my life is an understatement. Not surprisingly, I came up with a brand, bought the URL, claimed the Instagram name and was off to the races. I was going to build a brand around this theme of embracing one’s inner weed. Then doubt set in and I quit. But I have never forgotten Trudy and her wonderful words of wisdom.
How Do Weeds Live?
Many of us pay a lot of money and work very hard to keep weeds out of our lawns and gardens. We strive for a perfectly manicured environment. But, despite our best efforts, weeds still find their way into our perfectly planned garden. They suck the water and nutrients out of the soil making it harder for the plants we have so carefully chosen and inserted into the environment to survive much less thrive.
What is it about weeds that allow them to do what they do? I have a few thoughts.
First, weeds know they are weeds. Weeds are not trying to be fancy or unique. They simply find a place to live and then get about doing the best job they know how to do. Some weeds are ugly, some are beautiful, but they don’t know that. They just are living their best life.
Second, weeds adapt. They can survive with minimal food, muss or fuss. Ever notice weeds growing in the cracks of a sidewalk in the middle of a city with no other plant life visible? Yup, that is a weed for you. It finds the tiniest bit of nourishment and it goes to town. Weeds don’t need fancy. They need whatever it takes for their roots to take hold and their stems and leaves to grow. Flowers are the icing on the cake.
Finally, weeds thrive despite their circumstances. Once weeds have found a place to survive, they learn to thrive. The surroundings may not be ideal but they do what is necessary to make more weeds. Because that is what weeds do. They grow, spread, and make more weeds.
Dandelions and Me
During this “Live Like A Weed” phase I adopted the dandelion as my spirit weed. I didn’t think very deeply about why, I just love dandelions. What is not to love? Pretty little yellow flowers turn into a puff ball and then sail away to settle in and begin the process once again. I love the symbolism. And, once I began to think more deeply on the subject, I realized just how much I have in common with dandelions. Next time I will delve a little deeper on this part of the story. Until then…wherever you are, be like a weed.
Once the title of my favorite soap opera, As The World Turns is now just a descriptive phrase for life in the midst of Covid-19. The earth keeps rotating; life moves forward, day into night and back to day…and if we aren’t careful the mundaneness of it all can and will destroy our very soul. But take heart! Each one of us has the power to break free and soar. Johnny Rose and his intrepid family showed us how this can be done in the now iconic television show Schitt’s Creek.
Lessons From Schitt’s Creek
For me one of the joys of the past few weeks has been the discovery of Schitt”s Creek. I have not been living under a rock, but until the Emmy’s last year I had not heard of it. When I noticed it available on one of my multitude of cable channels I thought, “I need to watch that someday.” I never did. Then it popped up on Netflix. Now I could watch it sequentially – as it must be for full enjoyment and impact – and continuously. The continuous watching just seems to happen. I tell myself I am only going to watch one episode and before I know it my butt has been glued to my recliner for several hours. At some point I realized that there is an end point and I don’t want that to come too soon. I must savor the morsels of poignant hilarity parceled out by the Rose family and their newfound friends in Schitt’s Creek.
There are many parallels that can be drawn between life during a pandemic and a life of financial and cultural exile. As I envisage the many similarities and the mercurial peregrinations, I cannot help thinking that a pandemic does not a life make! When one person shines, we all shine. Warning, my vocabulary has been permanently influenced by the verbose Moira Rose.
The pandemic has been a barbarous infliction on all of humanity. The hows and whys aside, the trauma and pain suffered has been catastrophic. However, we, as human beings are nothing if not resilient. There has been good forged in the fire of pain.
Like the Rose clan exiled to the town of Schitt’s Creek, many families have been forced to share very close quarters which has led to dragooned intimacy and the ensuing drama. The Rose family had grown comfortable in their estranged and dysfunctional life which was fertile soil for comedy. In less glamorous ways don’t all families settle into a comfortable way of interacting such that it takes something dramatic to change?
As vaccination rates increase and restrictions decrease, life is beginning to return to “normal.” What have we learned that should permanently change how we live?
Take nothing for granted.
Every aspect of life is sacred and should be protected at all costs. Friends, family, health, freedom, speech, religion…all are under attack and deserve defending.
We are more alike than we are different.
We are living in a time when those who wish to rule over us try to maintain their power by pitting one group against another. It is commonly called identity politics. I believe that most people want the same thing – a safe place to live, food to eat, education for children, the ability to work and self mobility, the opportunity to excel, worship, love who they love, live a quiet and peaceful life.
We are not promised a tomorrow. Live through fear by taking chances, trying new things, living someplace new, experiencing something you have only dreamed about. I have a dream of living somewhere different and have found that place. This place has the kind of historic home I want to live in, it has all the amenities I am looking for and is close to all my family (within two hours counts as close to me). I am ready to live that life. How about you?
I’m not sure when I decided that October was to be my favorite month of the year. Thirty one years ago I got married in October. That could have been the beginning. Or maybe not. At what point in life do we mature to the point of not taking hours, days, much less months for granted?
I think back to my life in my twenties. It was not the most outstanding decade of my life. Married eleven days after turning twenty, I spent the next seven years growing up and realizing, though I loved my husband as a nineteen year old, the reality of building a life with someone takes more than I had to give. I was too immature to deal with the life issues required of such a relationship. By the time I realized how out of balance our relationship was, there was no recovery possible. So I left.
During those years and the few that followed I was caught up in working, paying bills, making a new marriage work, trying to be a step mom and grieving not being a biological mom. I burned out on one job only to move to another that, while providing me with wonderful opportunities, also caused me great personal stress. The stress of that job was then compounded by becoming a full time step mom to a sixteen year old grieving the death of her mother. I left the job to be home full time. There was only so much stress I could handle. I felt God calling me home to create a safe, nurturing environment for my daughter and husband. This was no easy task, but it was where I was supposed to be.
I still had not learned to relish the precious moments of life. I was still in survival mode. In fact, I feel as though much of my adult life has been spent there. Being the safety net for this broken girl to heal and grow as well as for her equally broken father, well, I think that was my calling from God at that moment in time. There are more details to our story. Details that, when viewed in retrospect, seem to point to me having been chosen for this family long before we said ‘I do.’
I stayed home for a couple of years. I love being home. But then I felt the pull to go back to work when I saw there was an opening for a receptionist at a local church. This again was the hand of God guiding me to where I needed to be at that moment in time. I was in the right place for the birth of our first granddaughter and the passing of my dad. It was a job that helped support our daughter so she could stay home for the first nine months of her daughter’s life, to bond and nurture her first born. Then it was my turn. I left the job and came home to spend a year filling the maternal emptiness inside me. And still I was so busy with the day to day of life that I don’t remember dwelling on the things I ponder today.
As many children do, ours left and returned several times before being ready to stand on her own. God has pressed into my heart that she would not permanently leave until she was mature enough and had found the man to spend her life with. A man who would love not only her but her three daughters. This process took many years. I was well into my fifties by the time I could rest knowing that she had indeed arrived at that place in her life.
So, here I am. I’m sixty two and spending most of my time relishing in the simple pleasures of a beautiful day, my husband, dogs and the various creative endeavors that bring me pleasure. I have finally let go of the constant need to produce, anticipate trends and stay ahead of anything and anyone. While I marvel at how young some people figure this out, I wonder…have they really got it all together or do they just know how to put up the facade on social media? Now, I make what I like, sell something here and there, or not. But it is all about the process and making the most of each day. And sometimes, making the most of the day means sitting outside soaking up the sun while listening to birds and swatting at flies.
Therefore, in retrospect, I think I have just now learned to treasure each moment of each day as I realize how fleeting these days really are. God has blessed me richly with the ability to be able to live this way and to Him goes all the credit for opening my eyes and heart as well as providing all the blessings I enjoy.
I pray that whatever season of life you are in right now, find simple ways to find the joy in each day. It might only be a moment, but I promise it is there. This is the true secret of making a life.
I love reading about the latest lifestyle trends, taking the quizzes, looking at pictures, imagining living in any one of a number of homes found as I scroll Pinterest. I don’t necessarily put in the work to implement the changes necessary to have the life, but I sure do love reading how other people do it while wondering how they manage to live such (fill in the blank) lives, while mine remains relatively the same year in and year out.
Hygge and Minimalism are two of the most recent trends that I have thought I would like to adopt into my life. My husband and I both tend to hold on to sentimental belongings. I can get rid of things more easily than he, but still I find it hard. Minimalism is a very unachievable goal for me. But, I can simplify. I can and I must find a way to simplify my home so that I can enjoy what I have and feel the peace that comes from a well ordered environment.
It is the “do the same things expecting different results” syndrome. To have change, one must do things differently. What an astonishing revelation this is! With this in mind, and as I strive to make a life not merely react to what life gives me, I must start doing some things differently. But where to start?
Stop Thinking & Just Begin
It has taken me three weeks to get my dining room turned studio space in order. I have boxed yarn and spinning fiber. I have moved boxes from the house to the garage. I have cleaned out a closet so that I can put things away in an orderly fashion. Next will be clearing out the bedroom where the overflow ended up and moving what I can into the garage and the rest sorted by potential projects and stored so that I can remember what I have and the designated project I have in mind. I must admit I feel like I am beginning to get a hold on the process and a small sense of control is returning to my life.
I have a great deal of money invested in the yarn and fiber I own. I don’t want to just give it away and most every knitter, crocheter, spinner or weaver I know has this same issue. The plan is to evaluate my stash every six months. Things that I have not touched, nor have a plan for, will be donated to a local Houston business that supports artists and teachers by selling donated items really inexpensively. Texas Art Assylum is a great place to go to buy all kinds of stuff for collage and other assemblage art. I feel good about my stuff going to a place that I know it will have a second life.
Maker In Action
When I first decided to focus this blog on making a life, I was really only thinking of the things I make. I make yarn. I make fabric with a crochet hook, knitting needles and looms. I make art that hangs on my walls. But I soon discovered that there is so much more to this making a life thing than the items that flow from my hands.
Making a life is making choices and accepting the consequences. For different results, different choices must be made. I have lived a reactionary life for so many years that I don’t know how to be proactive. It is much riskier. It is scary to step out and do rather than just accept what falls in our laps.
There are always others to consider. I am a wife, parent, grandparent, daughter. My choices affect a large number of people. I can’t just do what I want. Or can I? Can we? Dare we dream to make this part of our lives…the final season…a life that is created by us for us? We have ALWAYS lived for other people. Could this be our turn?
I don’t know the answer to this question, but what I do know is no matter what our future holds, I can begin making a life right here, right now. There is one thing for certain, if I continue living a reactionary life, absolutely nothing will change and I will still be looking longingly at other people’s life wondering why not me.
Baby steps. Just take one small, simple step forward and build on that every day. That is what I am going to do. Won’t you join me?
I know I shouldn’t go through a season just living for the next. I’m sure there are daily nuances and events that I miss by pining away for Autumn, but at the moment I can’t think of anything significant. I savor fall, winter and most of spring. And, we’re back to summer. I have always lived in a part of the country where older folks like me escape the cold and come south for the winter. They are affectionately known as snow birds. Well, I want to be a sweat bird. I want to go some place where I don’t have to sweat all day every day for months on end.
I use the first day of September as an excuse to celebrate fall. It may still be hot, but I pull out the fall colors and decor. This morning as I was hunting for my little collection of crochet and knit pumpkins, I ran across this weaving, one of my very first attempts at weaving on a small loom.
I was mesmerized by the process and possibilities. I have remained so steadfastly entrenched in the knit and crochet world since then that I didn’t listen to my soul sing as I made a picture with yarn.
I keep most all my little pieces of weaving and crochet in plastic storage bins, the flat ones that slide under the bed. I want to be able to open the container and look through all the color and texture my hands have created. Sometimes a piece will spark and idea and it comes out of storage for the metamorphosis into something new. This is an important part of my creative process. All time spent making is time well spent. The end result need not be “useful” to have value. The value lies in the creating.
I think I will honor that early effort by properly mounting this so that I can hang it up in my studio. It deserves to be seen.
I pray you take time to celebrate the day and make a little something that makes you smile.
The other day I talked about spinning wool into yarn and how it makes me think about larger issues. I love to find teachable moments in the midst of the everyday. Since Friday is a fun day on the blog I decided to show you what I do. I went through my photographs (I have hundreds) and selected the ones that I thought would tell the story.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
I adore Beatrix Potter and these illustrations grab my heartstrings.
So there you have a short lesson combined with my love for working with my hands to make yarn. I sell my yarn helping to provide for my family. I am not idle. I work everyday despite rarely leaving my home. If you haven’t read Proverbs 31 in a while, go give it a read. Some would cast it aside as being old fashioned and repressive towards women. I don’t see it that way. I see it as a glorious homage to the value of a woman. Women are portrayed as caregivers, businesswomen, hard working, valuable, and worthy of great esteem. That is the woman I seek to become.
Until Monday, have a joyous weekend spending time with those you love making memories and sharing the love of Christ with everyone you encounter.