You probably shouldn't (think).
Wow it's been a doozy folks! All around the world, the little chaos meter is bubbling away. It can be hard to take our eyes off it all.
But maybe it's time for a few more naps, a little more reminding ourselves of our lesser known moments like joy and humor. Last night I experienced deep belly laughs in a family game night with old-fashioned games like Password with little plastic sleeves called "leatherettes". In the 1980s, these game companies really thought we'd be fooled that plastic is leather, apparently.
My vegan, nonsmoking, nondrinking, organic food eating, distance walking self was shocked to learn last week that I have breast cancer. And yet it somehow feels in keeping with the patterns of my life or life in general. Just when you get a little too comfortable ... like 6 months after moving into the first rental in a long while that feels like home and you restore your financial losses from 2020 ... whamo, the chaos meter dials up a notch and you are back to an uncertain path of entering countless medical facilities during a pandemic.
I'm getting tested for BRCA gene, withdrew prior plans to forge a new way to live into my heart, and will spend the next months focused on paying medical bills and recovery from surgery. I will not be using this blog to list all details of my journey, but instead will mention only the big-ticket items and insights. I imagine the slowness of recovery may involve the eternal life raft of knitting, so to that end, I'll share here. Fortunately, I am surrounded by loving family and community charities who can pick up pieces for me, but oh how I really don't wish to be here again, seeking support in order to survive.
Interestingly, as an acupuncturist told me, energetically breast cancer represents overgiving patterns and blocks against receiving, so I will practice receiving and trying not to feel so darn bad for the people caring for me. I tend to go to nature to receive, but I am awful at it for humans.
Now that I am experiencing the C-beast from the caregiver, clinic note (transcribed oncology reports 2 years), and patient side, I hope I can use my wisdom someday to serve others. For a decade I've held a vision of myself leading/guiding small circles of diverse people in the woods. I'm pretty clear at this point that I do not want to be sitting in a room alone typing until my last breath, but for now it continues to be my 26-year self-supporting survival mechanism. Transcribing continues, with some measure of gratitude I can work from home protected in a physically compromised state while pandemic surges.
I've started a private Facebook group called Healing Outdoors Now where anyone can gather to share nature images and words of inspiration about nature's nourishment. You don't need to be in the cancer world to join. Feel free to stop on by.
In order to have a compelling structure to get me off my behind, I have pledged to walk 100 miles in June to raise funds for expanding pediatric cancer treatments. I tend to walk roughly 50 miles a month, so it'll be an experiment to see if I can double the mileage without cramming 75 miles into the final week (egads!). Here is my fundraising link which will run through the end of June:
A Mile For a Child
I have been knitting a lot, with very little to show from a mystery knit-a-long until it's complete, as well as a top secret test knit.
Completed a course on expanding my intuition which was a blast and put me in touch with an amazing virtual community, and now am beginning an 8-week course on intuitive plant medicine with Asia Suler, whose programs are pure magic. Soon I will restart volunteering with Whidbey Institute in their medicinal herb garden, and after a lifetime conversing with and observing the plant world, I love being a student expanding this exploration further and filling my cup to create deeper offerings after ANFT certification.
Images from last few weeks include a drenching rain walk through 7 miles of a land trust trail, glimpses of plants surrounding my abode, and two beaches within 20 minutes drive. I truly feel blessed to live surrounded by all this abundance of the non-human world.
Yes!! We with #KnitforFood collectively raised $270,660 for Meals on Wheels, Feeding America, World Central Kitchen, and No Kid Hungry. As someone who raised a child with help of a food bank, I am amazed by the generosity and accomplishment.
It was one amazing day, and now as I return without injury to my full day of typing, I think the stretches I learned during the Knit-a-Thon from an athletic trainer Mara Smith (mara_knits_on in Instagram) who teaches knitters how to avoid injury, and the talk by Carson Demers on ergonomics really helped and will help me going forward in my work and knit life. Below are pics I took during the event, including walking on a beach at glorious low tide, chilly in the 40-degree range, which allowed me to master slow walk-knitting. I will be walk-knitting my yarn with backpack in the future for sure to keep the blood flowing.
The Math: Over 12 hours, I completed 11, 520 stitches on my Pi Shawl, an inch on my linen stitch cowl, a thumb gusset on a fingerless mitt. I will be participating next year with a lot more lead time to fundraise.
An amazing thing happened when a knitter offered to help another knitter in need. A group of us Fruity Knitting Patreon patrons from around the world gathered to help publish a beautiful pattern designed by a woman who has no desire to receive accolades or be a designer, only wanting to do what she could to thank the people who have given us so much incredible content over the years. If you are looking for a fingerless mitt design complete with video tutorials, charts, and written pattern, please take a look by clicking on the image above to access the pattern on Ravelry.
It is inspired by Andrew and Andrea of the Fruity Knitting Podcast, and the Black Forest. Andrew was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor a few months ago and sadly recently we learned passed. He will be sorely missed by all whose lives he touched. Since the podcast was their only source of income, and we – patrons – have already received a goldmine’s-worth of knitting content carefully created by them, we want to support the family during these challenging times. Therefore, 100% of the revenues from this pattern will go to the family. Please do check out their podcast, consider becoming a Patreon patron or making a one-off donation.
For me personally, I am honored to be a store conduit for the pattern due to the synergy of healing provided by the Black Forest with my future intention to become a Nature and Forest Therapy guide, and my prior history as a cancer caregiver. May this pattern go far and wide in gratitude to Andrea and Andrew and may the forest be with them.
This week I applied to a new beginning, which is really a continuation for me of a decade of visioning and work toward a goal of serving people in ways most natural to me. I receive nourishment from the natural world daily and have long wanted to find a way to guide others to do the same.
I have been accepted into the guide program of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, which is a global guide certifying body that lists their mission as: To nurture heart-centered relationships between all peoples and the more-than-human world of nature. If you click on the book image above, you can see a directory of guides, many of whom offer virtual walks during shelter in place times for reasonable cost.
I can't imagine a better job description for what is in my heart. My goal with this certification which includes completing basic Wilderness First Aid and immersion experience is to be able to completely revamp my former vision for HealingOutdoors.org into a project separate from the context of hospital caregiving and medical trauma and instead focus on guiding small groups from any background to direct experiences in the natural world.
Lack of funds and confidence in my leadership abilities have been obstacles (one external, one internal) in my way to applying to ANFT since it began nearly a decade ago. In this moment, I have decided if I don't try now to obtain further support and training to do the work of my heart, the purpose my life path has trended toward, I will only get older and stiffer resigning myself to full-time desk work. I replace keyboards every few months, but even then I type so much, I wear off the letters on the keyboard! This month marks my 26th year of transcribing human voice full-time at a computer when everything in my being wishes to be serving others more directly and connected to the outdoors in some way. My hope is to eventually spend weekends guiding walks, therapy for myself and others.
I intend to hand make items over the next few months to offer via my Etsy shop in order to fund my dream to enter the November 2021 cohort. I am not using copyrighted patterns and every item will be made with love.
PHOTOS: Many of my well-loved items have been gifted without remembering to take photos, so I will update better quality item pics as I make a variety.
READY TO SHIP: If you want one of the 3 hats of my own designs pictured above the PayPal button made from one-off skeins of wool that cannot be identically duplicated, simply go to the More tab at the top of this website and choose from Wearable Items. If you would like me to make a slight divergence from the images of one of those three hat designs using what wool I have on hand, please specify which one: Fiddlehead, Gulls & Waves, or Fir. If the checkout process gives you any trouble on this site and you would rather use the contact form with your shipping info and want to Venmo or PayPal me the request, I can email you a link.
WAIT TIME: Since my making time is evenings only, I anticipate making 2-3 items per week, so I will ship in order received slowly. Thank you for your patience in advance. If you receive in the summer months, you can have it for the Fall. : )
P.S. Once my funding needs are met for ANFT, I will resume my standard donating 10% of proceeds to three nonprofits involved with healing earth.
In honor of National Women's History Month, I started reflecting upon all the women I've admired and learned from since my arrival on Earth. Here is a partial list, only because I can't possibly recall every single one. If you want to try this list to inspire yourself, you can bring it to a higher level by writing character traits and qualities of each of the women you list. Then read over those qualities, put a hand over your heart, and know that you contain a bit of each of them or you would not be drawn to them.
A free retreat anyone may enjoy is Global Sisterhood from March 6-8. I'll be dipping in as obligations allow.
Sunset Meditation on Sky and Water
Recent knits on an accidental color theme
Thank you to all who were a part of knitting a fabric of support and love for the life-affirming work of REDES Ecovillages! Together we harvested $325!! (At latest count I have available). It fills my heart to know there are people with imagination and knowing that when we lift others, we lift all, because we are all in this interconnected Earth together.
Congratulations to: Sarah B.!
The shawl will be making its way to your door this week!
Diversity: It was amazing to see that even among a small group of donors, we came from four different countries and four different US states (if I did not miss anyone).
Method: In case it's of interest, here is the method I used to randomize the drawing. First, I entered only people who provided me receipts of their donation as instructed, because some wanted to give without entering drawing. I placed each person's name on a small piece of paper for each $10 amount and put those papers in a container. I shook the container in as many ways as you can imagine. I closed my eyes and pulled one at a time and wrote down a number to represent that paper. Then I used Random.org random number generator to select the number.
You are awesome. Be kind to yourself.
The moment I saw Francoise Danoy of Aroha Knits' design called Te_Whenua, Maori te reo for "The Land," I knew I wanted to knit this up to support an incredible ecovillage project in Senegal focused on revitalizing and reclaiming indigenous ecosystems called REDES. Francoise graciously gave me permission to use her design in this manner.
This shawl was a joy to knit, is soft and light as a feather, made from a Merino wool and black alpaca blend for the main color, and a few hand-dyed Merino wool samples I had in my stash. You can own this as an art piece for a wall or wear it draped around the neck for warmth on cool days. Wingspan: 80 in/203 cm, top to bottom 37 in/94 cm.
To enter drawing:
Step 1) Go to Context.org to make a minimum $10 donation.
Step 2) Email a copy of your receipt on behalf of REDES to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 3) For every multiple of $10 you donate, I will enter you that many times into a drawing for the shawl, so one entry for $10, two entries for $20, etc.
Step 4) On February 28th, last day of the month, I will randomly select a winner, contact you by email to request your mailing address, and pop it in the mail anywhere to your door!
Yay, I moved! (Again).
Deep gratitude to my parents who took me in and allowed me to continue working during two months of nowhere to live despite pandemic, because my isolated lifestyle pays sometimes. ; )
Meet my new beautiful neighbors. Their owner saw the rental ad I placed and said she was about to post an ad that looked identical to mine. Perfect fit! Not only have I landed adjacent to an established organic farm, but my child can have stability of remote school for a semester. In summer I can contribute labor to a garden to grow my own veggies (or walk next door to the farm's CSA (community-supported agriculture).
The Woolly Bear caterpillar in the first image below becomes an Isabella tiger moth in spring. But first it can freeze solid up to -90 degrees Fahrenheit if need be. Now that's resilience! (And metabolic anti-freeze).
Today, a wonderful article on calm from knitting. Once we can sit side by side without restrictions, this article is inspiration to resume my intention to teach beginning knitters offline.
October was full, albeit without a blog post. I threw myself into several volunteer endeavors that led to heart-opening connections with people from around the globe, like Conservation Conversations at my alma mater and Narrative 4 facilitator training. Story exchanges were such a powerful experience both as participant and facilitator, I found myself regretting not finishing my teaching degree way back when so that I could have a pool of folks to work with for future exchanges. I continued meeting with a small group in support of REDES and will soon have "The Land" (Te Whēnua) shawl ready to auction on their behalf. I ended the week of Halloween or Samhain in a small group discussion about Spirit with the author of Sand Talk, my favorite book still in process. (I have partially finished reading quite a few books since my English major days - something about great intentions and speed reading?).
It dawns on me, along with distance walking and knitting, connecting with folks across cultural boundaries is what really makes my heart hum, especially when people discover in one another's stories some common feeling more than thinking, some common aspiration for what life on planet Earth can be. It's as if a part of me has always resisted the powerful cultural indoctrination of my culture as viewing oneself as primarily a consumer inside status stratification or money, and a compassionate human being connected to the whole web of life secondarily or as afterthought.
I also finished up 6 months volunteering with Organic Farm School, to which I am endlessly grateful for feeding me luscious produce through most of the pandemic thus far and allowed me to connect with my community off screen. Consider contacting them if you wish to be trained in small-scale sustainable practice farming for a first or second career.
Staying close to the wealth of nature and making with my hands bring me greatest joy and comfort. You can find me on Instagram as @waterwomanknits, and on Ravelry as Waterwoman-Knits.