How is everyone? Having weekends and more than that not working for the first time in years, my entire being seems to be R&R'ing. I slept 15 hours after walking four miles. I'm hearing from other people too, that holding such extremes of just under the surface emotions is requiring extra care. Like seeing a neighborhood drive-by birthday for a child that is joy-filled but super strange and sad at the same moment, or any number of triggers to life being both beautiful and painful in the same moment - how it's always been, we're just super aware now.
In the past decade, I did a lot of mind-body integration work, but I find under our current stresses, I revert to strange physical clumsiness and plain feeling out of body most of the time. I missed a scheduled meeting completely, which is very rare for me. This morning I boiled water for my single-serving coffee French press, and where did I pour that boiling water? Over the coffee grounds in my coffee canister that held a pound of coffee. My choices were either throw out a pound of pasty coffee grounds or pour a ton of cold water over and stick in fridge to make a lifetime supply of cold brew. Being close to the money bone for food, I chose the latter, even though I am thinking I may have just made coffee cement rather than a delectable brew. We make do.
In the BC (before COVID) times, I had a bit of spending money that I used to purchase a sweater quantity of BFL wool from West Yorkshire Spinners. It was the most quality wool for the lowest price I'd ever seen, cost being one of the things that makes me hesitant to make sweaters. The last time I attempted a sweater for myself, I had lost weight and kept it off for a year, so I thought that trend would continue. Wrong. By the time I finished the sweater, I'd gone up two sizes. End result is, although I've knit for over four decades, I do not own a sweater/cardigan that would make people say, "Wow, did you make that?" Pure ego, obviously. But in the BC times, I envisioned myself beginning to lead knit workshops and wanted to make a statement.
Thus, when I saw the Chalkney Cardigan, and learned it was named after a specific woodland, I just had to make it. Anything named after a forest or woods, and I'm there.
Now, in the AC times (after COVID), I have been struggling with a depression that has thrown me to the point where I have not felt able to do one of my main joys - knitting. So I definitely was not going to be finishing this great cardigan structure made all in one piece except sleeves, because 300+ stitches per row was just not motivating.
Instead, in attempt to motivate myself during these AC times, I am going to use my mass quantity of wool to make Carol Feller's Transom Cardigan and if I feel up to it, join in the MDK knit-along starting May to further encourage me. Not sure. Another online group doesn't seem to be doing it for me these days. I'll likely snap myself out of it and just start with adjustments to the gauge since I'm using Aran weight for a pattern that calls for sport weight wool.
I wish everyone out there no coffee disasters and plenty of self-care. Peace out to these amazing sky feelings I was lucky to witness morphing above the tide flats where I saw osprey, sandpipers, blue herons, seagulls, and ducks dredging for morsels.
Thank you Gaia. May we continue to see the connections between ourselves and every being including Earth.
The sunlight filtered
through smooth and graceful trees.
Behold! There was life!
A crystal clear stream
frothing and fretting its way
Leaves! Drifting downward
carried and caressed by wind,
sliding to soft earth.
The billowy clouds
floated above the blue sky
changing shape with care.
A New Day
The sun spreads its light
and dries the wet dewy grass
A new day begun.
Buildings and buildings,
tearing and scarring meadows.
Will Man ever stop?
The Apple Tree
The apple tree stood
ornamented and serene
reaching for the sky.
The earth gave and gave,
until it could give no more.
And who was to blame?
It is faster than joy, love,
It is slower than death.
~ Erin Waterman, 1978
Mindful walks lift my spirits. Sharing what I learned from 9 hours of meditation in three days.
When I find myself sitting on the ground beside a tree, I know belonging.
"There are so many ways to reconnect with the sacred within creation, to listen within and include the Earth in our spiritual practice and daily life." ~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth
It is my hope with Waterwoman Knits that I can provide a link between my two hands' creations to nature and funnel anything earned back toward healing Earth, toward planting trees. I have been reassured by TreeSisters that their planting projects continue even in this pandemic, because thankfully no one has become ill. I do not know how my vision will come to fruition, as thus far I have raised $2.10 from sale of my 3 hat patterns towards this effort.
While working toward my next pattern, I will continue to broadcast little videos from precious Earth as solace in these challenging times. I wish I could feed all those people in food lines. I wish I could house all the homeless. But instead, I find myself applying for unemployment as soon as April 18 arrives for freelancers in my state and searching remote work lists. I found this message of hope from Jane Goodall to be balm for the soul, and am sharing here in case you find it so as well.
Last week I was feeling 100% peace by applying my own resilience in coming through past trauma to today's circumstances. This week, I am feeling mostly foggy confusion, vague indirection, scattered.
In this moment with my biggest shift being unpredictable work and loss of income, I am turning to the inner work of becoming comfortable with "being seen." It's thrown me for a bit of a loop. My paid work is completely behind the scenes and invisible, and with the exception of volunteer work and two years (the past trauma years) in my adult life, I have not had an in-person interview for a job or worked with people in a team directly. Through two years of college and a year of grad school, I took service jobs where I would be invisible, delivering mail to an entire campus and doing interlibrary loan couriering, walking to 25 different libraries and physically making photocopies before library content was on Google. I loved getting information to people and being invisible. I think at one point before my 30s, I actually started to believe in the fantasy I was invisible.
Not new information that folks who want to reach people with creative work need to be comfortable with being seen. I am forcing myself to record little bits of me talking in my halting way on camera, to overcome and get past the, "Oh my gosh this is horrible," feeling where my brain freezes up. For now I'm forcing myself to do no retakes. I hope my voice will become more fluid and stronger in future clips. It is my intention to have greater theme focus, but for now, I'm just doing what I can when I can, around a completely unpredictable workflow.
Wonderful resource on growing our resilience.
And in case any of you love poetry as much as I do, you may enjoy these Pandemic Poems from Kim Stafford, Oregon's Poet Laureate and teacher from my former college. Against the backdrop of the confusion storm, it has been amazing and encouraging to witness the incredible spontaneous creativity bursting out of the seams from many places in society, in countless forms.
Slideshow of soaking in people-free nature during 3rd week of "shelter in place."
Will try horizontal filming next time and sharing one exercise each week on our interconnection with nature.
More Senses to Consider
Interesting to consider how much more capacity humans may have than our education may tell us. I found a sheet I drew up from coursework in ecopsychology describing more than 5 senses, as identified by Aristotle. Food for thought how complex our sensory connections really are. This is only some of several pages of them grouped by Project Nature Connect into four categories:
Color and Design
Here is an exercise to try to tap into your personal color sense. Make a list of colors out of a crayon/pencil box and make two columns. Felt sense (what the color makes you feel in connection to the natural world) and rational sense (what you've been told these colors represent) and see where if any differences exist.
After decades of intermittent depression/anxiety struggles and not feeling I fit into whatever grand experiment we're in, it all changed when I decided to stop listening to and experiencing inner pressures to be more social, date more, find a partner, be less isolated. After years of trying all of the above (I even remember one amusing workshop on finding soulmates where literally the best "success story" that was offered was, "She dated 100 people, and after the 99th, she had success, and you can too!"), I no longer wanted my energy to go there.
Instead I turned toward the solitude I gravitate to inherently and fully embraced it. The power I have felt from my start on this planet is that I never feel alone when I am alone. My earliest memories are observing nature, and my parents were patient enough to allow me a full hour to walk around a single block as a toddler, since I had to commune with every leaf and flower. In other words, I am by other people's/culture's metrics showing "isolating behavior," but I find incredible richness in connection with my inner world/imagination, the natural world around me which I find super nourishing, and increasingly spiritual exploration.
It dawned on me that even if I may concern others by my behavior, I can reassure them that I experience greatest peace and connection with all that is when alone. Kind of a hard thing to describe to those who may not experience this. In short, I feel I am expert in balancing health and needs in the circumstances most are currently living under. If you are wanting some advice on being an isolation warrior, just hit me up (not literally).
I am capable of switching on an outgoing aspect in order to serve/help others (my first spoken word was "hi!" and mini-me did not stop saying it to everyone who crossed my path), and am actually finding myself having a reverse trend from most in this "sheltering in place" time. In the past month, I've had more social interaction, participated in more networks, more meditation groups, more family conversations than I have in 15 years.
The fact I enjoy my solitude does not mean what is happening in communities large and small everywhere does not impact me. I feel it, honor the background grief and watch the waves of energy and fear rise and fall. But most of all, I have learned to be gentle with myself in times of great upheaval, because I have had good training. May you be gentle with yourself too.
Virtual Maker Circles 4/4 & 4/5
If you would like to connect as fellow isolation warriors, my offer remains to be present for as long as our quarantining lasts, each Saturday & Sunday @4:30 pm PST for Maker Circles, link on home page. Bring anything you're working on and maybe a cup of tea or coffee. Open to anyone. So far we've had a puzzle being made, weaving, cross-stitch, knit design, and crochet. I'm plotting out a pattern to knit my own face mask. Care to join me to help figure out the best shape?
Wool is surprisingly suitable for a face mask for these reasons*:
*Please know I understand enough about the mechanics of viruses to know a knitted mask is not recommended or protective against them. I find no masks available, and if I had one I'd give it to my sister on the frontlines (donate to Mask-Match, Masks for Humanity, DonatePPE, PPE Link). I thought I would attempt to make one for when I go into public spaces just because it's better than nothing to protect others from me. I am 100% healthy at this time thankfully, but we all know we can be silent carriers.
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. My fledgling Etsy page is WaterwomanKnits.