Peeling back the layers

This is on the topic of life after the loss of a loved one.  Not the emotional impact nor the significant life change but more-so on the items that were labeled ‘his’ that were left behind.  What I call the layers of physical reminders in and around the house.  Loss is a tricky thing and we all cope differently.  I am speaking of how I handled his ‘comforts of joy’ that I no longer desired to have around. Where to begin?  How to deal?  Well, I did what I do best.  I organized them. I organized in groupings, like layers, from easiest to most difficult in their significance to our relationship meaning the easiest to the most difficult in coping with each of his things.

I call it the removal of layer one.  These are the large furniture-like pieces that I wanted removed from the house quite immediately after his passing.  Like neon signs of significant loss. Examples: his leather chair, his dresser. Our bed. I was on the hunt very quickly to find someone who could utilize this large furniture.  His clothing and shoes.  These items found alternate homes quickly.

Layer two.  These are things that were of significance to him, only.  His toys. Such examples: his fishing rods and equipment, baseball hat collection, pen sets.   Homes for these things were sought after the ‘big’ items.  Of course, offerings to family members were made, accepted, and appreciated as keepsakes.

Layer three and by far the most difficult to confront were items of his, however held the memories of our connection to one another, his passion and obvious talent. These items of his stemmed around all things music. His large collection of musical instruments, both woodwind and baroque, sheets of music, and extensive CD collection had to go.  About a year and a half has gone by and I knew it was finally time to face the inevitable.  What to do with them?  Knowing that instruments need to be played to keep from self-destructing as well as knowing their function is to be played, it was time.  Well, what instruments need are musicians.  Musical friends came to mind first in bidding them farewell.  Then, consignment shops.  A local shop took in his woodwinds. The baroque instruments . . . a trip to Boston.  Taking the baroque instruments back from whence they came could serve as purpose, perhaps some pleasure.

Potpourri Boston ~ We chose a quaint little apartment airbnb in Boston’s Historic North End.

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Highlights, Yes, there were some

The ending to this year was no different than the personal devastation I endured throughout this horrific year of 2017.  Bitter cold temperatures and wind prohibited the otherwise planned trip to be with family this holiday season.

aborted plane after waiting 2 days due to cancellation of original flight

It was to be that I was to spend this holiday alone.  As we all know, holidays are designed for family.  Period.  When you find yourself alone, you realize that more than ever (and a lesson to keep in your heart to help others who you realize are alone during a holiday season).  However, with a bit of perseverance (because I’m that way), do-over planning, and creative thinking, I have come to realize there were actually some highlights to this holiday season of which I am most appreciative.  Here are a few and may help you if ever . . .

Childhood ornaments ~ I did put up a Christmas tree.  Full size from floor to ceiling.  Preferring a real tree but knowing the handling aspects, the artificial had to suffice.  Having long passed along our family’s handmade ornaments, in conversation with my Mother, she offered the myriad of boxes of ornaments she had stashed in her attic, literally a plethora of vintage glass adornments from my childhood.  Boxes and boxes found themselves in my hand and eventually on my tree. This season, when I looked at the beautiful lit tree, Christmas memories of my childhood surfaced rather than the loneliness I was feeling.

Christmas cookie baking ~ Simply said, I made sure to participate in the annual Christmas cookie baking I had set up years, ago with family.  Even though I didn’t feel the spirit, something about the act of kneading dough is quite therapeutic.  The cookies turned out great and it was satisfying seeing the very happy faces of the others.

Volunteer Appreciation Dinner ~ Traveling with the crew of ladies I work with at Habitat for Humanity, dressing up so the men could see we do indeed clean up nicely, it was a lovely evening getting to know more personally those who are teaching me ‘construction’.

Birthday Dinner ~ Temperatures frigid, a beautiful winter scene, I was treated to a birthday dinner from Mom.  With lovely seating and a beautiful view, it was nice to return to a restaurant of ‘yesteryear’ (neither one of us had been there in years) and to a dinner that was warm to the heart and tasty to the tummy.

Dog Walking/Activities with Neighbor(s) ~ Every day walking the dog, taking in the fresh air is a pick me up no med could provide.  And, to be escorted by the neighbor who is just that kind of nice person is a special treat of comfort, kindness, and companionship.

shoveling snow into the air. Why? ’cause the dogs loved it.

Back on Treadmill/Orangetheory ~ Back on the treadmill, again of course, I will need time to rebuild the endurance and training I have lost, but how happy it feels to also be back in class at the local fitness studio (and please, no one look at my data).  I felt bonds of friendship I did not even realize were there until the warm welcome I received upon my return.

Race ~ Well, let’s just say, it was on my radar that day.  Wind chill in the negatives did indeed scare me away.

A Few Finished Garments ~ Believe it or not, even knitting requires endurance. I have turned (temporarily) to smaller projects, pictured here, again hoping to build my endurance of concentration and focus to the longer, more tedious projects I am used to.   I don’t have photos yet of the easy, fashion garments recently finished, but they are beautiful and ready for the wear whenever I am ready to wear them.

for charity

crocheted basket for projects

New Furniture ~ Yep, a fresh start needs a pick-me-up in the furniture department.  Mostly, the living room and bedrooms received the new pieces (area rug not in, yet).  Modern looks, clean lines, and neutral colors fill spaces otherwise filled with memories of recent loss of life.

Fix-its ~ Mostly, learning how.  Keeping water level where it needs to be for proper steam to warm the house, sump pump adjustments, endless plumbing understandings, door(s) removal, paint and staining here and there, becoming familiar with garage and its advantages, ~ all in a home owner’s day in a life.  But, it is feeling very different with the responsibility falling solely on me.

Making New Friends ~ Here is my new mantra.  It’s ok to make new friends.  Female and male.  Purposely going out even when it is dark and cold, signing up for activities never done before, getting together with friends of the past  and friends just met, finding and going to new places to dine trying out new foods (Octopus salad for me the other night), allowing myself to feel the companionship, warmth, and life of another is ok.

Was it a great holiday season?  No, not by a long shot.  Do I have living alone all figured out?  Hardly.  Do I feel guilty about simple pleasures, smiling, and enjoying life, again?  You betcha.  In reflection, these activities and purposeful moves helped me to cope with this holiday season.  I know I have a long road of recovery ahead of me.  I figure with healthy, intentional steps with awareness of the positives, this is an avenue that can lead me back into the game of life.

 

 

Change

Who is he?

What does he know?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?

While habits unfamiliar, we find our way

Each day different, “one day at a time”, we say.

like the crystals in a kaleidoscope,

one turn and the reaction

unfolds.

Silence from others, busily living as the world turns

we carry on

In case you were wondering, he is sweet and tender

as always, during this complicated

time.

Blooms of Copper

Copper garment, “Orange is the new black.”

“Absolutely retro, yet undeniably modern.”

“Is it a tunic or sweater?”

Symbol of life change.

Simple style while coping with the complicated.

Vintage yarn at hand, modern technique repairing life lines.

Busy constructing, resting to heal

Strong statement, rebuilding strength.

The tiger lilies recently transplanted in a courtyard otherwise unruffled

from one garden to another.

Today, to my surprise

blooms of copper, in a sea of green

just two of them . . . for now

to welcome my best friend

home.

Thank you to my dear knitting friend, Gina for the rooted cuttings and whose constant and continual support helps me to go on and for Sarah, a blog writer whose words were of inspiration to me.  I cannot forget Denise and Terry who are constants in the VK Challenge.

 

 

Copper garment details, HERE.

Life-Altering Event Tips

I call it a cloud.  A storm cloud.  A storm cloud filled with tragic events.  This cloud of tragedy chose our house and the residents inside to reign its terror.  It has hovered for months but this morning, there was a phone call with news that may loosen the grip of this fury.  Just enough wind of information, perhaps more like a breeze, I am able to document a tip or two that I have found helpful in coping with this life altering event.

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Wardrobe Planning ~ Retiring Belongings

Topic:  Wardrobe Planning.  YES, I plan my wardrobe!  I never thought to write about it.  This question of wardrobe planning came up in the blog world and I am only too happy to answer.  In short, I believe wardrobe planning, like everything, takes a certain amount of self-control and focus.  The process for me begins with retiring belongings, otherwise known as cleaning out or donating, for the obvious purpose of organizing but in a knitter’s case, this careful consideration informs [knitting] project choice.  Ravelry acts as a record-keeping system.  What does this mean?

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On Fitness

I haven’t written about health and wellness in awhile.  It is not because I have been negligent rather, I wanted to collect some data to share and show that exercise continues to be alive and well in my retirement  life.

When I retired, I said there were three things I wanted to focus on.  They were and continue to be:  knitting [of course], running, and writing/reading.   In my knitting life, I knew I would be attacking the stash working up projects I had only wished/dreamed of finishing.  UPDATE:  I moved OUT a piece of furniture that was housing yarn as those bundled fibers are now finished objects!

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Where is the knitting?

The reader must be wondering, “Where is the knitting?  I thought this blog was on knitting!”  And, you would be right however, this blog also serves as a journal on related topics and I feel staying fit and making healthy choices interweaves in the kind of knitting I represent.

How is staying fit and making healthy choices a part of knitting?”   I’ll give you the top five answers that pop into my head.  1.  (staying fit) I want to keep my shape for as long as possible for the fashion statements I make with my knitting.  When asked why I knit, immediately I say, “for the fashion of it.”  2.  (staying fit) We have a routine for exercise that is meant to help keep that shape.  And, the routine is for two, hubby and me.

3.  (healthy choice) Even retired, there are responsibilities and obligations that are part of my life.  There is the enjoyable position as VP of the Buffalo Knitting Guild where I share my love and passion of knitting hoping to encourage and inspire as I go and there is a growing call for my time and service helping aging family members.  I am beginning to take my knitting with me for waiting room entertainment.

4.   And, full disclosure:  (healthy choice) Don’t get angry, knitters, but I do find pleasure in other things that are not knitting related.  When I take a break from knitting, coming back to it gives me a much greater appreciation of it.  5.  (healthy choice) Did you know people who knit for too long a period of time can and have done bodily injury to themselves?  If I sit for too long in one spot, my body get stiff and sore.  The repetition of motion of one’s hand, wrist and elbow for extended periods of time can and does create injury that could take months, if not longer to heal.  I purposely knit for short periods of time, involving myself in another activity in between.  So, one reason why you haven’t seen any knitting is because I’ve spent time on a number of these other things.

Another reason is because I am attempting knitting more than one item at a time!  Therefore, I am about 50% complete with two projects right now.  If you count a quickie crochet scarf, then I am in the middle of three projects.  ok, here is a sneak peak of the start of one and yarn (linen) for another.

I don’t think this multi-knitting projects is for me.  I seem to have a certain guilt that arises when I am knitting on one of the projects and not on the other.    I feel like I am not giving full attention to each project, like I am rushing through just to get them to completion. I notice I am not taking the time to appreciate the particulars like the detail, or whimsy of style, or innovative fabric.  When these projects are finished, I will be going back to my mono knitting.  Just call me a serial monogamist.

And, my last excuse why knitting has been missing in posts is because it’s been too blasted hot to knit!   (We have no AC.)  Even to have a photo shoot!   I actually do have a beauty in queue for a fashion shoot but it is a turtleneck!  It will have to wait.

So, enjoy some of these shots from our last bike ride.  This is a bike path that is quickly becoming my favorite in the local area.  I love how it follows a creek at times,

passes through a summer camp as it reminds me of my summer camp days, and winds in ever-extending trails through the University of Buffalo’s ‘playground’.

IMG_0534

Feel the summer breezes, take in the fresh air, work those large muscles, and know that knitting is always in the forecast of the future.

 

First Year Goal Check

Here I am, first year of retirement is in the books!  And, as my goal-oriented personality is reminding me, it is time to check in to see how I’ve done with the annual goals I set forth for myself.  The purpose of checking in is to see if these goals are still relevant and of interest.  Remember, in retirement each of us  is in control of our own destiny.  I will ask myself if I need to change any of them for the upcoming year, make any of them more challenging or less ambitious.  Have I put them into action?  If so, I will ask, “how is it going” and if not, I will ask myself “why not?”  Basically this is a review of where I am now in my thoughts, feelings, and well-being.  Another way to put it is, it is an effort to be the best me I can be.  There is no sense in posting goals if you don’t take the time to reflect, another reason why I am giving this some attention.  I will re-post my goals from a year ago and below each section, in pink, write a synopsis of success, failure, and thoughts.

Here is the blog post of goals and the how research I did to get them.  And, I DID say that knitting was only PART of the plan.  I broke my life into 4 categories:

PHYSICAL

  • running – minimum of running 10 miles per week
  • minimum of 3 (5k) running races this upcoming season, looking to challenge my own times
  • biking – enjoyment
  • snowshoeing – a new endeavor with hubby, to begin, enjoyment
  • ponder rowing for enjoyment, season is May – October
  • ponder skiing for enjoyment, weather and time permitting

There has been lots of good, healthy running this year.  I have either reached or surpassed the goal of running 10 miles per week.  Weather conditions are not stopping me/us.  We, hubby and I vary it up by going to the local track, park, and river.  

I am noticing an ever-growing love of running by the river with hubby biking alongside and around as I know he enjoys it.  Oh, dear . . . I did not participate in any races… yet however  I AM registered for the Turkey Trot in November and have my sights on the half marathon in May, 2017!  Registration is not yet, up for the half marathon.  I just looked.

I perceive biking as a sport in support of running.  We purchased a gorgeous new bike for me last summer and we’ve had many a splendorous outings together.  

Snow shoes were purchased for both of us last Fall and as much as we loved our times out, snowfall was record low, so our times out were minimal.  We will keep our fingers crossed for more snow this winter.  

Rowing is out.  There is not enough time to do it justice and the time frame for commitment does not work.  Skiing is out until we see where our snow-shoeing takes us.   

October 2016 I will begin classes at Orangetheory Fitness!  I have signed up for 1 class/week.  Orangetheory Fitness is a studio for classes of all types utilizing heart rate and data to grow one’s fitness. 

SPIRITUAL

  • knitting – choose projects from stash only
  • no purchase of new yarn through this year
  • plan, make, finish, and wear ~ VK’s mantra
  • attend churches for the purpose of familiarizing and ultimately joining to become part of its community

Ah, yes.  I do put knitting into the category of ‘spiritual’.  If you’ve ever knitted, you would see why.  I have completed 7 projects since January, 2016 utilizing much of my remnant stash and some from ‘project’ stash.  I did weaken, however and purchased some new yarn. Minimal bundles . . .  three.  But, for a full year and lots of temptation, I will pat myself on the back.

2016 collection  Honeycomb is in ‘photo shoot queue’.

Untitled (1)

 

Church did not happen, that is attending one or becoming part of a membership of one.  There has been lots of talking with hubby about faith, which location, the idea of membership at one specific church.  Sundays (assuming we would attend on Sundays) rolled in and out, 52 of them to be exact and somehow, we are only in the discussion phase.  I will need to study why I am not putting this goal into action.

MENTAL

  • write posts on Holly knits ~ for enjoyment
  • find and choose at least 2 other venues for writing, i.e. My View in the local newspaper
  • read blogs, articles, books
  • ponder accepting invite into book club

I have been quite regular posting on this blog.  And, I have found another venue for writing!  Wow, I really met this goal!  The other venue is another blog attached to the website called The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo.  

Not only will I write regularly there (1x/wk), I took the old website and re-configured it, organized it, updated it, and brought it to WordPress!  

My reading continues to consist of non-fiction, I do read lots of articles, and I did finish reading Knitting Pearls by Ann Hood.  I am not ready for a book club at this time due to time commitment it requires.

SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL

  • care take family members, as needed
  • join the local knitting organization 9/10/15
  • volunteer at least one task/job in that local knitting organization

Oh, it is fun to read goals written a year, ago!  Not only did I join the local knitting organization, I now hold the position of Vice President of that organization!  Yikes!  I believe by October I was Social Media Chairperson and my enthusiasm just grew and seemingly noticed by others.  What can I say?  

Regarding the care of family members is, of course, a more tender subject.  As we age, our needs change and sometimes our desires are effected.  The idea of housing, safety, and therapy are very much in the forefront of parent-care.  This is not easy, there are tears, and unwanted change is looming.  Retirement, by definition means the ceasing of.  Ceasing to work, ceasing to compete, ceasing to ______________ .  

Here are some images of family care of a loving kind.  circa 2016

I feel like I have met most of my goals.  In the next week, I will write goals for the next year or group of years, a decision I need to make.  I do not find this a chore, rather an opportunity to think deeply about who I am, who I want to be, and where I am going.

Retirement Identity

Retirement identity?  So, you thought you knew who you were?  Well, the truth is you knew who you were but part of the emotional preparation behind retirement is realizing you will need to find out who you are all over, again as everything in your life becomes upheaved the minute you begin your retirement.  Well, these items, below are helping me regain my confidence and identification of self.

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Orangetheory Fitness

If retirement is about revisiting possibilities for one’s body and mind, then let me tell you, EVERYTHING I just experienced fits into this category.

To alleviate some sadness with the new school year starting without me, I purposely planned a visit mid-September to see my daughter.  Of course, it is always great to see her but I must say this trip did indeed fulfill the task of perfect distraction for me.

When I visit my daughter, I never know what I might be getting into.  You see, she works hard thinking about her core values and belief system.  This notion had its beginnings during the college years and seems to be continuing through these employment years. From teaching high school art, teaching yoga, working in art studios and for independent artists, working retail, and currently holding a managerial position at a fitness studio, she continues to seek what she believes in and what makes her happy.  This creates surprises and unknowns when I visit.

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