Friday, May 30, 2014

Weddings

Beautiful wedding this past weekend.  Jackson and I do not live near family, so weddings, for us, are few and far between.  So it was especially nice to be able to attend a friend's wedding.  She was, of course, a beautiful bride and he was the handsome groom. I cried, as usual, when her father walked her down the aisle.  And it does make me think about my wedding and marriage.

I do remember how stressful a wedding is, all the planning and details mixed with the nervousness and excitement.  And we are always told that the wedding is easy compared to the marriage.  But just like having children, you never really know until you are there, living in the moment, working daily on a great marriage.  I wouldn't change anything for the world.  My life is such a wonder filled journey, and I can't imagine sharing it with anyone else.

Our wedding was very formal and traditional, we were both in the military at the time, so lots of pomp and circumstance.  Watching this simple and beautiful wedding, Jackson and I were talking about what we loved about it, and how much we have changed.  How this wedding style is more of our style now, simple, and out in nature. The decorations were very natural, and beautiful. It was at a park, and so close to nature and the spirit flowing all around. Jackson has mentioned a couple of times before about renewing our vows, and I tell him the same thing each time.  "I remember and meant the vows I said the first time.  I don't need a 'refresher'."  But maybe we should think about it again. Maybe just he and I with no one else around, writing vows that are more true now.  Like "I promise to share my journey with you forever, and when the road gets rocky to continue to always turn towards you and our commitment."  Will have to think about that.




Thursday, May 29, 2014

Feelings of Guilt

Do you ever have a time when the feelings of guilt are overwhelming?  I am having a morning like that right now.  Trying to be more open and honest with my process, I have decided I need to blog about it.  Just sitting here right now, it is only 5:30 AM and still dark outside, the house is eerily quiet and I was journaling my thoughts and feelings. This is when the raw feelings surface, at times so I HAVE to feel them, no distractions. Suddenly my mind is just racing and I am remembering things I have done or said that have hurt other people.  Most were not intentional, and some I didn't even realize until years later, like the day when I was really young and I stormed upstairs after my mom spanked me and I said "I hate you", to her.  Just little things over the years, I have said or done that have hurt another person.

That wave of guilt I am feeling right now, seems crushing.  I wish I could take it all back but I can't.  I am older now, life has a way of changing people, opening your eyes.  I was journaling about how to get out of this funk, how to release those feelings.  I don't like feeling this unease, I don't like feeling that knot in my stomach.  So I decided to blog about it and just sit with the feelings.  Let them be for now, and maybe work it out in my art journal in a few minutes.

Why is the memory so strong?  Seems like the memories of all the positive things I have done fade easily, but these just stick in my mind, to be rehashed every few years.  If you read this and I have ever done or said anything to hurt you, know that I am truly and deeply sorry.  I have worked on releasing things that don't serve me, but this is something that no matter how hard I work, just won't leave.  I guess maybe it is still serving me in some way.  Maybe the reminder that my words and actions have power.  I know a lot can be said about this topic, and I have heard it before....that they only have power if the recipient (intended or unintended) chooses to let them have power.  But from my end, it still kind of sucks.  Guilt, remorse, hurt....all sitting squarely in the pit of my stomach, and in the forefront of my mind right now, for just a few moments.

But I know these feelings will pass, my day will brighten, joy will fill the spaces in between and take over.
............................

Now it is noon, I was right the feelings passed.  I sat with them for a while, then turned to my journal again to write it all out of my brain.  Followed by sitting in the quiet stillness.  The sunrise was beautiful.  I made my tea and headed for the Greenway.  I love my self care routine.  It is time I nourish and comfort myself.  And rather than being trapped in the feelings of guilt, I am able to care for myself, and see these feelings in a different light.  The memories are still there, but I can handle myself gently, and move foward.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spiritual Self Care

Spiritual self care, for me, means activities that bring me closer to my truth, who I am, how my spirit sings.  I am not a religious person but do have a spiritual side that needs tending for it to grow, stay strong, and provide me with a base from which to go about my daily life.  These activities feed my spirit daily.  Journaling, art journaling and meditation, for me, provide this sense of spirit on a daily basis.


When I wake in the morning I open my journal and just cleanse my thoughts.  I was calling this my "morning brain dump" but really didn't like the negative images this evokes, LOL.  So it is a cleansing of all the thoughts running around in my head.  I open up my journal (which is a new practice for me) and just write, whatever pops into my head.  Sometimes it is pages about dreams, my todo lists, things that have been worrying me or the joys of the morning.  Some days I write a sentence "I am tired".  And move on.  But I need to get it all out of my head to move forward.  

I have found the morning cleanse a great precursor to my meditation practice.  I have been meditating for years now, and enjoy that stillness and peace.  So while my journal helps empty out the thoughts, I follow that with meditation and I sit and just breathe for a while. Some days it is just for 5 or 10 minutes, and some days I could sit for an hour or more.  Some days I just can't quiet my brain, and sometimes that stillness just flows over me like the creek outside.  In this space I find my center.  If I have trouble quieting I count my breaths.  When I feel it is time to stop I usually have just one image, question or statement pop into my head. This is my guide for the day.  Whatever it is I am feeling when I open my eyes from meditation, that is what I take back to my journal and art journal.  

This thought will find so much depth and definition when I bring it to my journals.  I will write about my thought for the day, or my image.  Some days it is easier for me to work in my art journal, to paint my feelings.  Some days I will do both, I will write on the page of my art journal and then paint over it.  There is so much freedom in journals.  They can remain mine for as long as I choose.  I can share them with friends or family or not.  

These activities in the morning just nourish my spirit.  Help me connect to my center, and put me on the right path for the day.  I think nourishing your spirit is so important.  It really has helped me to dig deeper into who I am.  

But meditation and journaling are not for everyone. There are so many things that can nourish your spirit:
~prayer
~oracle cards
~Tarot cards
~reading
~classes/courses
~photographing yourself
~Bible study

Ask yourself what it is that brings you closer to understanding who you are?  What brings you closer to your truth?  What helps you ask the important questions about your life?  

I also participate in sporadic work.  Not daily, but just occasional courses and classes.  One that I particularly enjoy is the Goddess Mystery School.   Lots of deep work there.  I encourage everyone to take at least one course with Stephanie Anderson Ladd, you will learn so much about yourself.  And another course I am enjoying is the Spectrum course .  If you can't take the Spectrum course the Holistic Creative Chats on the same site, are amazing as well.  So much deep work, getting to know your truth in a new way, in a deeper way.  Any struggles that may come up during my meditation or journaling, I have found The Work by Byron Katie to be a great tool. 

Whatever it is that brings you closer to your spirit, do that!  Do it daily, even if for just a few minutes.  Do the work, dig deeper.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Where I Knit

Today Dallen and I decided to have a cuppa tea at The Grind Cafe and Coffeehouse, in downtown Morganton.  Not as peaceful and serene as the River View Cafe on the Greenway, The Grind has more foot traffic, more people, a little bit rushed and not quite as much space.  But we enjoyed the change of scenery, and watching people walk by, families out shopping.  I brought my knitting and crocheting along.  One woman stopped and watched me crochet.  Just a little creepy...I said hello and she said she was just watching me, so she did just that.  Stood there for about 5 minutes watching over my shoulder while she waited for her coffee, and for the rest of her family to be ready to leave.  I am not used to that, LOL.  Here is a picture of one corner of the coffeeshop from our table.  You can see out the window, people walking by.



I am really coming along nicely on the wrap I showed you last week.  I am about 3/4 done and hope to have it done by the end of this week and should have a nice finished picture for you.  It is just turning out so beautifully, a nice summer wrap.   Here is a picture of the edging, not blocked yet, but you can still see the nice pattern.

And below is another scarf I am knitting.  This is again that linen stitch, it just makes a nice winter scarf, and since this will be a Christmas gift I wanted a pattern that would keep someone nice and toasty!  And this is it!!   I am loving these colors together, very natural feeling, soft and warm and close to nature.  



Friday, May 23, 2014

My Physical Self Care Ritual

Why did I add a physical element to my self care routine?  For me I was sporadically active.  When other things needed my attention, that was the FIRST thing to go.  My parents were really not athletic people and neither were my brothers, so I was never really shown the importance of any type of physical routine, exercise, sports, hiking etc.  I do enjoy certain activities but doing anything on a regular basis was a struggle for me. Yes, this is hard to say out loud like this.  My time in the Army just made me dislike physical activity, but that was the only time in my life that physical activity was a "routine".

About 2 years ago I just decided I needed to make it part of my daily self care routine.  What I added first was walking.  I go down to the Greenway in Morganton, where it is so beautiful and peaceful that walking is just a joyful experience.  And, except for times of injury that has prevented walking, I walk every day, anywhere from 1-4 miles a day.  When it is raining I get on my treadmill (even though I don't enjoy the treadmill).  For me this is important.  I am worth it.  Since then I have added resistance exercises to build muscle, this is 5 days a week, at curves, so in 30 minutes I am done, and I am feeling so much stronger for it. I build this into my routine and reward myself with a nice hot cuppa tea and a few minutes of knitting.  I don't always jump for joy at the thought of going, but I do it.  And it has become part of my daily routine, at around 9:30 every morning, I miss it if I don't go.

I do have other activities that I enjoy, yoga, hiking, swimming, and biking are just a few examples.  But I really had to think about something that I could do DAILY.  I didn't want to make the task so much that I would regret it, hate it, find excuses to "not" do it.  I wanted this to be enjoyable and manageable as part of my daily life.

Another physical self care routine for me, is taking care of my feet.  After I broke my ankle several years ago, I have really appreciated how much my legs and feet do FOR me.  So every evening before I go to bed, I use my home made body butter and rub my feet.  While I am doing this I thank them for carrying me throughout my day.  It is just something nice to do for myself, something daily, appreciating my body, and how strong it is.

I think sometimes we can neglect our bodies.  I know I did for years while my boys were younger.  I might have kept knitting and quilting, taking that me time now and then for the things I enjoy, but there were years when the physical side of my care was put on the back burner.  And I have paid the price over the years.  I just now feel it is so important to care for my body.  And make daily time to worship that part of myself.  I worship my body by taking care of it.  I don't think daily physical self care has to be long, it can be simple, just a few minutes of stretching in the morning.

Start thinking about how much your body means to you.  How have you cared for it and neglected it over the years?  How much does your physical body mean to you?  What makes you feel strong?  How do you or how would you like to worship your body and care for it?

Here are just a couple ideas that are outside the obvious exercise ideas:
~Taking a few minutes while you shower to release the tension from your body as the hot water washes it away
~Massage
~Acupuncture
~Herbal infusions
~Skin care

A couple of these might not be daily but could be worked into a weekly self care routine.

Daily physical self care is where my daily self care routine started, it was the easiest thing for me to grasp, it was concrete, and tangible and I could see immediate benefits.  Are you worth it?




Thursday, May 22, 2014

Self Care-What Is It and Why Is It Important

I hear those words thrown around quite frequently these days, *self care*, but it has taken me some time to figure out what that means to me, and how to implement self care into my daily routine, make it important.  I have always taken bits of time here and there for things I enjoy, like knitting, or quilting.  Maybe a day to take a walk just by myself.  But creating a simple, daily routine for myself has been such a blessing to my life.  It really has woken up my inner Goddess and sparked a fire.

I am not one to open up easily, show parts of myself to everyone.  I am generally a private person, and really only share those more sacred parts with family and a few close friends.  But I am stepping outside my comfort zone. I thought I would do a short series of blog posts dedicated to my process, where self care is concerned.  What it means to me, why it is important, how it works in my daily life.  My goal is to shed some light on my process so that more women will find that space within their lives for a self care routine, and find ideas or sparks of truth within the words I share.

For me self care is a sacred space, it is a time I dedicate to taking care of my spiritual, emotional and physical being.  That may not happen all at once, and some things don't happen daily, but it happens, there is a plan (not that my plan doesn't change as I go along) in place, the intention is set.  Having this plan and setting my intentions, sets my self care as important, not something that can be bumped first if something else comes up.

My routine really sets my life on fire.  It provides such a solid base for me, from which to move forward, it is my basis for discovering parts of myself I never knew existed, parts of myself that have been dormant for so many years, and also parts of myself that I want to change as I mold the image of who I would like to be and become.

Taking care of myself sets me as a priority in my life, something everyone should do.  What does *self care* mean to you?  How important is it for you to put *you* as a priority in your life?  Why is that important in your life?   Those are a few key questions I asked myself while I was developing my routine.  And I dug out my journal and just wrote pages about this, why I wanted to create a routine and put myself first, make myself a priority.  I encourage anyone interested in developing their own self care routine to ask these questions, really think about how important it is to dedicate time in your life for your own exploration and growth.  Dig out that journal, blog, a scrap piece of paper, art journal, or vision board and really take that time to answer those questions. You are worth it!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Where I Knit

This is where I was knitting, actually I was crocheting this project, on Friday.  You might not be able to see it well, I am just starting this project.  It will be a very lacy shawl, the yarn is a thread weight yarn I picked up just before our vacation, at O Suzannah's Yarn on Union, here in Morganton.  The colors are just so beautiful, lavender, blue, and teal, lovely richness.  The pattern is a simple V stitch for the body of the shawl, working from center back out to the end with a more intricate pattern on the edge.   If you are on Ravelry you can find the pattern HERE .  It is a scarf pattern, I am making it larger, using a thread weight yarn instead of the yarn in the pattern, and a smaller hook size.  If you are not on Ravelry you can sign up for free.  I am crocheting on our way back from New Orleans.  About a 12 hour drive, and my husband always wants to drive, so I generally sit and work on projects.  At this point in time we are traveling through Alabama on I-65/I-85, and there is really nothing to look at but lots of trees.  I love trees but after a few hours.....well yeah.....I get a lot done!  


In the picture below you can see the finished scarf I showed you last week.  I love how it turned out, finished trimming the fringe this morning.  You can make it as wide as you like, or as wide as your yarn will take you.  I really enjoy seeing the linen stitch appear.  This scarf will not be appearing in my etsy shop.  It is a Christmas gift, so it will be going into my gift basket for later.  OK so yes, I like to think about Christmas gifts and have them made or bought early.  I like to dedicate November/December to family and friends in a different way, so I try to be ahead of the game where gifts fit in.  


Below you can see a pair of socks I finished on the way down to New Orleans.  These are a luscious, rich color...purples and blues.  These socks are now in my etsy shop.  This yarn also is from O Suzannah's Yarn on Union.  I buy almost all my yarn from this shop.  I try to buy local (think I have mentioned that before) when I can, so if you buy something from my shop you are helping me, as well as helping the small business owners from which I buy my materials.  


Monday, May 19, 2014

Artwork For My Space

This is the artwork I have chosen for my meditation space. I am not sure you can see them really well in the photos but the top picture has two pieces. The left is a three dimensional piece with a woman's face surrounded by ivy. Beautiful! It is just such a calming piece for me, instantly brings me back to nature and a calmness washes over me. I picked that one up from a vendor a the Southeast Women's Herbal Conference. On the right is a photograph of a wolf. So powerful and mysterious. When you look at this you can't help but feel like you can accomplish anything!  



The painting below is one I painted. Just a reminder of the changing seasons. I love the colors, and of course the mermaid Goddess in the center, she just always calls to my heart, knows exactly what I need.  That is what I have right now! Not hanging yet. Waiting for them to tell me it's time.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Meditation Space

I don't think I have shown you into my meditation space.  This corner of our dining room held an animal habitat for a very long time.  It had been vacant for quite a few months and I couldn't figure out what exactly to do with the space.  It looked a little odd empty, but I wanted to wait and just see what presented itself. I knew something wonderful was just waiting around the corner. 

Up until this point I had been meditating in the living room. Not at all a bad space but just a little more difficult to get in a great seated position.  I had brought a few of my art supplies up to the dining room to work on through the winter, just warmer in the dining room, so I started using this space in the morning to meditate before I started art journaling.  I worked into a nice morning/me routine, slowly bringing in a few of the things I like into the space. So rather than needing to fill the space, I filled the space with the things I need. 

I have a few comfy pillows, my cushion, a small rug from our time in Germany, a couple of candles, a clear quartz crystal, and a sea shell. When I wake up in the morning I put the tea pot on and start my tea steeping. Then I sit for a while and just breathe, grab my tea and sit down to work in my art journal, then open up my writing journal and write, followed by e mails and a little computer time. A very nice morning routine.

Next I will have to show you the art I have planned for the walls. I highly encourage everyone to carve out some "me" time every day. It is so invigorating and energizing. For me, the morning, just sets my whole day off right. 



Monday, May 12, 2014

Spring Altar

A couple of days ago I showed you all a picture of one of my past summer altars. So today I thought I would show you my current Spring altar.




My altar sits on a glass shelf in my bedroom, in a little cubby.  The photo didn't turn out wonderful but you get the idea.  You will see that some items are the same. My votive candles have burned down, yes I use candles a lot, so I have replaced the votives with a purple jar candle. The spiral in the front center is something that I made, that I really like, copper and glass beads.  I made it to hang in my window but for now it sits on my altar as a reminder of my creative side.  The stones in the back left are just various stones from different things, but the bowl is something that by husband gave me for Christmas one year, a beautiful wooden bowl.  He know how I love nature so this brings some of that nature into my sacred space.

I have an altar cloth I crocheted myself from yarn I picked up at the local yarn shop, O Suzannah's Yarn on Union, here in Morganton.  I thought the colors just represented Spring so well, the beautiful pastel colors.  You can see two painted eggs in front of the wooden bowl, we picked up those eggs while we were in Germany, they represent all the new possibilities Spring brings with it.  In the center back and right back are a couple of oil burners.  On top of one you can see a few vials, just some herbs and scents that bring a sense of calm.  To the right you can see a rose quartz, to keep my space free of negative energy and full of healing.  Leaning on the rose quartz, you can barely see them, are two beads, by boys bought me one year, and in front of that is a necklace.

To the right is a letter opener, it has a Goddess on top, and she is so lovely.  That was a gift from a dear friend.  I think the Goddess brings such a powerful energy as well as reminding me of the love of my friends.
Hanging from either side on the walls, are just a couple of dolls that were handmade and gifted to me.  These dolls and the women who made them are strong, centered women.  Last but certainly not least, are the shells in the front left in the picture.  These just remind me of my home in Maine, and life on the ocean.  I love the ocean, so these bring that love any time I need or want it.  All I have to do is look at my altar.  I will sometimes meditate in front of my altar, although it isn't my usual meditation space.  I do light the candles often, and just sit and think in front of my altar.  Think about my day, the days to come....release fear or anger, fill up with calm and purpose.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed looking at my altar.  And if you don't already, maybe it will inspire you to start your own altar practice, celebrate the changing seasons.  You will see how powerful an altar can be.  If you want to get started but don't have the time to gather your own supplies, I am offering the Summer kits in my etsy shop, you can see a link in the sidebar.  Enjoy your day everyone!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Where I Knit

Knitting is something I like to take with me wherever I go.  You just never know when you will have just a few minutes to knit, get a couple of rows done. It helps me to relax in just a few minutes.  Today I am knitting on the Greenway in Morganton, at the River View Coffeeshop.  It is raining outside, so I am sitting inside, but isn't it still beautiful out there.  This is the view out the window.  When it is quiet it is a great place to stop and think.  On weekends it is busier and nice to see the families getting out and spending time together, going for a walk or bike ride.  I enjoy watching the changing seasons, seeing the river rush by, hearing the birds outside.  



Today I happen to be working on a Christmas present.  This will eventually be a scarf, yarn was bought from a small local yarn store here in Morganton, O Suzannah's Yarn on Union.  I support local businesses where ever I can so probably 90% of my yarn comes from here.  This is a linen stitch and has become my favorite stitch as well (for right now anyway).  Really simple but when it is done it really looks like a woven piece of fabric.  Here is the simple pattern for this scarf.  





You need, 3 skeins of yarn, different colors.  Variegated yarn works nice. I have used all three in different colorways.  I have used one in a variegated and the other two solid colors.  etc.  You also need a 24 inch circular needle in any size really, maybe a size 2 or 3 for thinner yarn, or a 5-8 for a little thicker yarn.  

~With color 1, leaving about a 6 inch tail of yarn, cast on an even number of stitches (400-450). If you use a larger needle you will have a larger piece of work, it will knit up faster, there will be larger stitches.  If you use a smaller size needle the work will be tighter, take a little longer to knit.  You will see what you like better as you go.  You can try a small swatch just to see what you like the look of.

~When I am working with a thinner yarn, like a fingering weight I cast on 450 stitches, when I am using a sport weight yarn I cast on 400 stitches. I place a stitch marker every 50 stitches just because it makes counting the stitches easier, but you do not have to use stitch markers at all.  Leave about a 6 inch tail of yarn after casting on and cut the yarn.  

~Row 1(right side facing you)- using color 1,  you will leave about a 6 inch tail before you start with your first stitch.  Then you will knit one stitch, then bring your yarn to the front of your work and slip the next stitch as if to purl.  Then bring your yarn to the back and knit the next stitch, bring your yarn to the front and slip the next stitch as if to purl.  Continue on for the whole row (K1, yarn to the front SL 1 as if to P, yarn to the back, K1, yarn to the front SL 1 as if to P)  the last stitch of the row will be a slip stitch.  This is where the markers come in handy, the stitch right before each marker will be a slip stitch.  This lets me know early on if I have messed up. ;-)  Leave about a 6 inch tail at the end of the row and cut the yarn.

~Row 2 (wrong side facing you)- using color 1, starting from the end you just finished.  Leave about a 6 inch piece of yarn, purl the first stitch, bring the yarn to the back of your work, slip the next stitch as if to knit, bring the yarn to the front purl the next stitch, bring the yarn to the back, slip the next stitch as if to knit.  Continue on until the end of the row (P1, yarn to the back SL 1 as if to K, yarn to the front P1, yarn to the back, SL 1 as if to K).  You will end the row with a slip stitch, leave about a 6 inch tail and cut yarn.

For rows 3 + 4 you repeat rows 1 + 2 in your color 2.
For rows 5 + 6 you repeat rows 1 + 2 in your color 3.
Rows 7 - 12,  repeat rows 1-6

Continue on with rows 1-6 until it is as wide as you like.  Every few rows take three of the tail ends of yarn, pull them together, a little tight, and knot them.  This will be the fringe of the scarf.  I think this one I am working on now will be beautiful when it is finished.  I will have to post a picture of the completed work, right now I am barely started, so you can just barely see the pattern emerging.  I think it is so amazing watching it take shape.   



Friday, May 9, 2014

Etsy

It has been quite a while since I posted any of my hand made "stuff" on etsy.  I love creating things and generally give a lot of it away for birthdays and Christmas etc.  But lately I have been making a lot of socks, scarves, shawls and other knit items, as well as jewelry.  So I was thinking about adding these to my etsy store.

         
 Just a few of the socks in my etsy store

A friend of mine was mentioning my altar.  Here at home I have an altar in my bedroom that I change with the seasons.  It has a base of an altar cloth that I make myself, a couple of candles, a small painting (I usually make this myself as well), and some herbs or other seasonal items.  I then add to that base with more personal items.  These personal items usually stay the same with the seasons and I just change out the altar cloth, painting, herbs and candles.  I was mentioning that it is so hard to find out anything about altars, what people use and why.  And then gathering the items was something I just put off and put off for the longest time.  I just thought it would be a good idea for someone to offer different altar kits, seasonal, and for occasions, circles etc.
My altar

So, with the encouragement of my friend, I decided to start offering the basic, seasonal kits, on my etsy store.  I sure hope other women find these altar kits valuable and take the time to create that sacred space in their own home, a seasonal guide, a place for meditation and prayer, a reminder of the changing seasons of the year and of our lives.  I truly enjoy my altar, and enjoy changing it with the seasons, using it as a place to meditate and sometimes I just sit and watch the candle burn and use that time to journal. A nice quiet time.

So if you have a minute check out my store.  E mail me any time or leave a comment here on my blog or convo me through my etsy store,  if you have any questions or just want to chat.  I am hoping to have more items available soon, a few scarves and shawls, some jewelry, and the Fall Altar kits.  :-)

~Pam