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Friday, March 31, 2006

An Authentic Life?

"Are you trying to live your version of an authentic life, or have you thrown up your hands, daunted by the demands of daily life? Talk to me."

Interesting question, posed yesterday, by my dear “sis” Birdsong! I am trying hard not to throw up my hands today. I’m truly “daunted by the demands of daily life.” With life constantly careening off at the speed of light, it’s hard to find the time I need to be introspective enough to live my version of an authentic life. And it’s been a rough week. So here are my thoughts on your question, dear Birdsong. I hope they're a worthy reply...

Once I practiced yoga and meditation, was an ethical vegetarian, lived where I could grow a few herbs and vegies, tho’ not nearly at the level of self-sufficiency I’ve dreamed about. I was politically active.

Now? If I can find time to knit, I consider I’ve meditated. Knitting lace is best for that. I still do a bit of yoga, tho’ not enough. I’m no longer a vegetarian of any sort, tho’ I probably should be! Politically, I still vote, and I write the occasional letter to my representatives.

Birdsong’s use of the de Beauvoir quote is terribly appropriate for her. In another lifetime, I’d have agreed with that quote. Today I no longer do. I can no longer afford to live so deeply rooted in society and maintain my physical health. I try now not to get angry about things I perceive I have limited control over. Tachycardia is an unpleasant side-effect of having had a heart attack and by-pass surgery. It feels as if your heart will leap out of your chest, it is banging about so hard. Angry/frustrated/frightened = Tachycardia for me.

I do not like many things I see in our world today. I question much of what appears in the news. I am easily angered. I am easily aroused to a level of frustration that is unhealthy for me. I live at a precarious economic level. I am often frightened about the future, at a very basic level of survival. When I see the least of society being threatened at this same basic level, my pulse races, my heart pounds in my chest – I can empathize so clearly. So I work for a non-profit social service organization in an attempt to make a difference. I hope we do.

And I try to maintain a fragile state of calm. Sometimes it boils down to something as basic as telling myself to remember to breathe...I even have a sign on my desk to remind me.

I am currently on a news fast. I stopped watching the 24-hour news channels after September 11, 2001. I try to control my exposure to negativity as much as possible, and I try to avoid the feeling of “on the edge hysteria” the news channels offer on a daily basis, about practically everything, not just events that truly qualify for hysteria. I listen to NPR, for the 20 minute commute each way on most days. I do not take a newspaper, nor do I read news blogs/websites.

The choice I’ve made is clear: I am determined to stay alive. Authentic life or not, I am determined to survive, to be here for my grandchildren. Because of my health issues, I have had to compromise on the things I allow to affect my emotions. Because of my economic issues, I work very hard at my job and my part-time businesses. Fortunately, I love my work. But ethically, it's a sad place for me to be. I feel that I've lost some of my power and that I’m selling out my values and my political beliefs by making this choice. Life seldom gives us easy choices, so I try not to agonize over it. So be it.

And thank God for the Birdsongs of the world.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Springtime in Virginia!

Can you believe this is the same tree from the post just a month ago?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Born Too Late!

(photo courtesy of Hancock-Paducah Fabrics)

I simply should have been here years and years ago...I was born too late for the Victorian era, but somehow I know that should have been my life.

I've just ordered fabrics from the photo you see here. All lace and roses, ivories, pinks, burgundies, greens, blacks, golds. The colors of a Queen Anne-style drawing room, of Nana Sadie Rose.

Why is it I feel a time warp when I see rose-strewn wallpaper? Why do I go weak in the knees over a nosegay of white roses and lavender? Knitted lace shawls, antimacassars, cut-work tablecloths, fine rose-etched crystal, bone china and marble-topped mahogany furniture. I was not raised with these things.

But when I was a very small child, there was an older lady who lived a few doors down the street from my parents' house. When I could not yet talk, I nonetheless toddled repeatedly to her house to visit. Her name was Lena and her home was filled with these fine things. How did I know? What drew me there? (Questions my mother could never answer...and don't think she didn't try!)

But as surely as I found my way to Lena's home, I have loved these things for all of my life...and now when I receive a notice from one of my suppliers that these fabrics are available, I once again go weak in the knees, and I just have to buy...

Just wait till you see the bags!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Lace for an Elegant Evening of Music

  Here, finally, is my beautiful Queen of Hearts lace shawl, she of the broken, yet mended hearts. I was ready to leave for a wonderful concert at the National Symphony Orchestra with Midori as soloist for the evening. A delightful evening, filled with the fun of new, young friends, and those of us older, my sisters, my self, my BIL. Exquisite peasant food at the Kennedy Center for dinner, fine wine, laughter, then wondrous music. And the most comforting thing, was pulling Queen of Hearts around my shoulders and feeling elegant! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Knitters Make the Best Friends!

I've just returned from my knitting group this evening. We meet only once a month, tho' most of us wish we could increase those meetings, we usually just can't find the time.

But once again, as I do on an almost daily basis, I am impressed by the quality of the friendships we knitters have with each other. You can't forget that you had a problem with something, because you'll be reminded that "we were going to work on that this time" and then you can just sit down, because work on it you will ... this time, for me, it was short rows on socks and my teacher was Rae. Still not sure I've got it, as I'd forgotten my own practice yarn, but I know I'll have another chance to sit with Rae and learn again.

We'd only just ended that particular session when a cell phone went off - MINE! And The Man From My Past, Present, & Future - he on a lonely stretch of road driving into the night on a customer call...Off I went, outside into the high winds, as a front pushes through our region tonight - temperatures dropping 40 degrees over night, so that the wind had a bite to it. Twenty minutes later, pink-cheeked, and not just from the wind, I returned to much good-natured ribbing. These ladies are as delighted as I am by the current state of my romantic affairs, I do believe!

It's the same with my on-line knitting buddies. We support, encourage, teach each other through trials and struggles and triumphs. An e-card now takes the place of the hot dish we might bring by if we lived next door. I've never had a next door neighbor to sit with and knit. The last time I did something similar, I was a teen learning to use makeup with my best friend India who lived in the house behind mine, laughing and singing to the radio. We were just as obsessed with our pots and potions of color and scent, with the Beatles, as my friends now are obsessed with needles, yarn, and spinning wheels.

Is it any wonder that women turned the internet into the proverbial backfence? We lean across and compare notes. We nurture our friendships online the way we used to nurture our neighborhoods, when we truly had front porches.

All my girlfriends - almost all of them knitters - save my sanity every single day!