a girl and her boy

. daily life : wool obsession : bibliomania : living on purpose .

Tag Archives: relationships

Rules to Live By

12 Rules to Live by Robert Louis Stevenson
Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.

Make the best of circumstances. No one has everything and everyone has something of sorrow.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Don’t let criticism worry you. You can’t please everybody.

Don’t let your neighbors set your standards; be yourself.

Do things you enjoy doing but stay out of debt.

Don’t borrow trouble. Imaginary things are harder to bear than actual ones.

Since hate poisons the soul, do not cherish enmities and grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy.

Have many interests. If you can’t travel, read about places.

Don’t hold post-mortems or spend time brooding over sorrows and mistakes.

Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself.

Keep busy at something. A very busy person never has time to be unhappy.

* * *

Just a little something extra for today. I hope you are having a fantastic day!

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Settling In

Oy! So, I have a story for you, but before I begin, let me go back and share the very beginning.

Read more of this post

Dreaming in Color.

I ❤ Autumn.

I’ve knit four feet on Gabe’s scarf. The colors are intoxicating. Why don’t we weave more color into our lives? Live in full color instead of monochrome? I have a lot of existential questions on my mind. That’s what happens in the fall when the leaves start swirling around my feet. The crisp cool air and the increase of orange in the landscape leads my mind back to the search for knowledge.

This urge to dig into books and steep meaning from the pages has me melancholy. A teaching position just doesn’t seem to be working out, again, this year. Lots of reasons:  the economy is still tough, saturated market, etc. But that doesn’t make being sidelined another year any easier to swallow. So, instead of stewing in my misery and getting depressed, I’m getting mentally active.

I started taking a serious look at grad school again. I have no idea which program(s) I’ll apply to, but I’m looking. I would *love* to do an English lit program. Special Education would be worthwhile, too. But, I always wanted to go all the way with English literature. When I started my Bachelor’s program, I saw myself going all the way to a PhD with it. My roommate at the time, who was also an English major, but later dropped out for a radiology program, always a very practical person, asked me, “So, what are you going to do with it?” I never had a good answer. But I do now:  to enrich my life and my inner world. To give voice to and unleash the insatiable thirst for knowledge that I’ve always had. So I’m looking at schools.

In the meantime, I’m still reading for my blog project of pairing the cryptozoological adaptations with the classic novels. I’m knitting. I’m tidying and organizing the apartment with Gabe’s tireless and cheerful help. I run and plan for road races. And I dream.

That’s what I’ve been doing the most lately. Dreaming. And it’s been wonderful.

I can smell autumn. Can you?

The salty air is weighty; heavy enough to keep this wandering spirit in once place and not feel trapped. The old promise of travel and adventure offered by the waves keeps this fiery spirit satiated. I fell in love with the saline-imbued air when I first moved to Salem a year ago and I’m in even deeper now that I can see the waves from my new vantage on the roof deck while knitting one stitch at a time. I’ve had ample time to knit up here lately as I’ve been home from work for a little over a week now. I once thought I’d love to be a home maker and have no responsibilities other than running the dishwasher, making tasty treats and ironing the laundry, but now that I’ve been at it for a week, I am chomping at the bit to get back. But it’ll be some time before I get there.

Remember the few posts I had back around March about health problems? Well, they never went away, and in fact, have gotten worse. I am now at home, “stepped away from the classroom” as I put it in an email to my curriculum coordinator, with a calendar full of appointments and reminders of things I have to do to get ready for them. But this isn’t what I want to write about.

There has not been a day that the breeze did not blow down here in the seaport. It took some time before I realized that this is just how it is. Despite living in Maine with a long history of marine trade, I was inland and isolated from the personal knowledge. The closest I got to ocean life was reading Elizabeth Oglivie and her novels about lobstermen and their strong wives, though she and I have done quite the opposite:  she was born in Boston and went to Maine. I was born in Maine and came to Boston. The breezes not only brings the smell of the ocean, but also of the autumn weather that is creeping up on us as the light ebbs at the outer edges of day; perfect weather for my woolens.

Oh, what shall you become, Mohair?

I pulled out my wool basket that had been sitting ignored since I moved here and spread everything out. I frogged old projects that lost the original charm and piled up stuff that I’d been carrying around that I never really liked to begin with. I grouped it all up according to weight and project type and saw the spectrum of possibility that has been dormant, waiting. Many knitters have done this with varying levels of success before me, but I’m going to give knitting only from my stash this fall and winter a go. The only exception I will make is picking up fiber for specific gifts in preparation for Yule if I don’t see something fitting in the stash.

Noro striped scarf for Gabe

While knitting on Gabe’s Noro striped scarf the last few days, I’ve been watching movies from my Netflix queue. I’d been carrying around “Cries and Whispers”, a 1972 film by Ingmar Bergman about three sisters who are brought together for the first time in ages because of the terminal illness of one of the sisters. I watched it three times back to back. I still don’t think I’ve processed it enough to give it an adequate review. It’s quietly disturbing in it’s portrayal of the relationship of these sisters. This is one of the many reasons I love Bergman. His work is like steeping a cup of tea: it takes time for the flavor to develop and is subtle.

Noro striped scarf

I’ve also been working my way through “I Know This Much is True” by Wally Lamb. People have recommended his work to me in the past but I didn’t actually crack one of his books open until I moved here. Now I can’t wait to finish this one so I can move on to the next. I love the people he populates the story with and how honest and real they are. He inspires me to write.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope all is well with you.

New Place, Old Face

Gabe and I have been living in our new home for a smidge over two weeks now. It’s been wonderful. It’s such a different experience than I even imagined. We’re in an area of Boston that is primarily industrial:  office buildings, restaurants, parking garages, hotels, and a few blank slates for someone’s imagination to take hold of. We have all of Boston at our finger tips but forget trying to get a gallon of milk without hopping on the T or getting in the car after 6 pm on Friday. The only remotely reasonable convenience store is only open when the offices are. But, I’d have to say, that’s really not a huge deal. It’s just different.

I don’t have photos of the new place yet because we’re still settling in. There are books and boxes and bags of stuff in various  out-of-the-way places waiting for furniture to organize them. Maybe next week we’ll have photos? We’ll see.

One of the things I’m growing accustomed to and am rather enjoying is not having Internet access in the apartment. We get it in the club room downstairs, but not in our apartment. It wasn’t until the last two weeks that I realized how much time I had spent idling away the hours on Facebook, instant messanger, and on other web haunts. I’ve read more. I’ve knit more. I’ve spent more time planning, and organizing, and goal setting. Heck, I’ve even spent more time exercising! I’ll take it.

Speaking of exercising, I have absolutely NO excuse anymore for not getting my butt in gear 5x a week or more. Our building has a whole, fully stocked, fitness center. I’ve been focusing on weight training and getting my endurance for running back. When I get to a place where I won’t feel wholly embarrassed to share what I’ve been doing, I will. I didn’t realize how quickly I got squidgy around the edges. It won’t last, though, I’m too determined and motivated after going to my 10-year reunion for that.

Seriously, I didn’t realize how much blogworthy stuff I’ve been up to until I sat down to write.

While in Maine this weekend for my class reunion, we stopped in to Purl Diva in Brunswick where I picked up materials for two new projects:  Noro Striped Scarf for Gabe, and some mohair for some undetermined project for me. I tend to buy fiber I like and figure out what to do with it later. I’ve come up with some great projects that way.

I started the scarf and am poking around for patterns and inspiration for the mohair. All while enjoying being in my new home and living with Gabe.

Let's Go

I’ve had a song stuck in my head, softly humming in the back of my mind and this refrain in particular has been haunting:  We need a big push / To reach the right conclusion / So we can get there / If we’re really going / If we’re really going / Let’s go. (Lisa Loeb, “Kick Start”)

Action.

Movement.

Power.

If we’re really going. Let’s go.

It’s no secret I’ve been a mess lately. Emoti0nally. Physically. My entire life has felt like one big mess untangling just enough to become another big mess. I don’t want that anymore. I’m sick of it. And it’s made me sick.

Trying so hard / To dig ourselves out / Cause we’re stuck and we’re scared / And we’re thinking / Things have to change

I’ve struggled with fear since I was a child. With the various things that happened, I learned not to trust, and to fear. Everything was always a mess. Everything was a big hassle. And there was always something to fear. And here I am, 28 years old and still TRAPPED by fear and distrust. I don’t want that anymore.

It’s just more of the same / Again and again and again

What we all know about change is that it is SCARY. It takes faith and trust, two things I’ve had to get “injections” of from those around me. And I don’t want that anymore.

So here is my next step. My next chapter.

But first, a quick glance back.

I grew up Mormon as some of you know. I have since chosen to step away for my own reasons, but we’ll get to that later. I was hurt and was angry and because of this, I was blinded to some of the good things about it, blinded from some of the lessons.

For example, faith is like a little seed. Plant it. It will grow. (Action is needed. Results follow. Plant grows and becomes stronger.)

And, “according to your faith, be it unto you.”

And that if you act each day according to what you know to be right, doors will open when you need them.

I could go on. But you get the idea. And I’m sure it’s not new to you.

But I forgot these fundamental aspects of life. That life takes FAITH and and that faith is ACTION.

Indiana Jones would never have achieved his goal if he had not taken that scary step forward. And that’s where I am. On the ledge looking out over the abyss. Sweat on my brow. But I’m going to do it.

So let’s go.

So where am I going?

Well, first off, even though it is SCARY, I am putting my health first and seeking the council and help of professionals to take care of these pressing matters. Then I will continue to follow their advice for long-term health and fitness.

And I’m going to stop putting hurdles in my own way and make the rest of my life happen after that.

I’m going to create a vision of what I want my life to look like at the end of this year, at the end of five years, and at the end of my life.

And of course, how I want my life to look at the end of today. Because how you spend each day is, of course, how you spend your life.

As Dr. Nick, as told by Jen, says:  when you wake up each morning, you have a choice:  you can either say:  “Good god, morning,” or, “Good morning, god.”

Don’t let this decision drag on.

After making that decision, the rest is follow through.

Jen asked me to go with her to morning ritual. I’m going. But I’m starting today.

If we’re really going, let’s go.

This is what it's all about.

Sharing quiet moments with the one(s) you love.

One Goal. One Purpose. One Mind.

I spend a lot of time thinking about self-improvement, eco-ethical decisions, and how to best make every day better than the one before for me and those in my life and community. This past month, starting on my birthday, I began meditating and journaling on the year past and the year to come in preparation for my new year resolutions. And this year, I have just one goal. Just one.

Be mindful.

Of my emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical well being. Of my relationships. Of my impact on my community. Of my impact on the planet.

One goal. Multiple beneficiaries.

This one goal breaks down into many little steps. I am taking one small step in January that I hope will be the foundation:  to meditate and stretch every morning before I do anything else. I haven’t thought out the steps for the rest of the year. I figure that will come with the meditation and daily mantras.

Phoebe in Wonderland

One of my favorite things to do is knit and watch films or anime. This past week I saw a film that had a profound effect on me:  Phoebe in Wonderland.

Phoebe in Wonderland tells the story of a girl who, later in the film, is diagnosed with Tourette syndrome. She uses her imagination to cope with her differences. The film is rich in visual color and script. This film hit me on several levels. One, as an educator, I have worked with students with Tourette syndrome, and although I knew the signs, I didn’t really understand how it changed a person’s world view. This film taught me that. Second, the mother struggles to balance her hectic home responsibilities with writing her PhD dissertation which she hopes to publish when complete while watching her husband get book deals.

At one point in the film, after some family strife where the father says something hurtful, but true, to Phoebe, the mother says to the father (and I’m cutting out some of the earlier bits in this dialogue):  I’m mad that I blame myself for the way she acts. I’m mad that I think of mothers as just mothers. And I’m mad that I care if I’m a good one. I’m mad that when you said that I knew you were right. I couldn’t take another one like her. I’m mad that I’m not writing. And I’m mad that some day I will be seventy and going on about my kids because I won’t have anything else because I didn’t do anything important. And I’m mad that sometimes I’m not scared of that at all. Because my children make me live. They make me live.

I paused the film at this point. The mother hit a nerve. Her words echoed my own struggle. This is exactly how I have been feeling about my relationship with writing lately. I’m so upset that I’m not writing (anything that I feel is worthy of being called “writing”) and at the same time, I’m not.

T. S. Eliot, one of the poets that has inspired me over and over, said, “Any poet, if he is to survive beyond his 25th year, must alter; he must seek new literary influences; he will have different emotions to express.” And that’s really where I’m stuck. My internal landscape has altered, my influences have altered, but I haven’t allowed the expression and the tone of my writing to alter. I still expect that my work will look and sound like it did in the “peak years” and I shouldn’t! My voice and my influences have matured, my writing should, too.

Back to the film. This film evoked the essence of childhood, the necessity of creativity, and the delicate and changing nature of family relationships. I highly recommend it to all. To go back to Eliot, “A play should give you something to think about. When I see a play and understand it the first time, then I know it can’t be much good.” I’m still digesting this one.

The Day Job

Sitting in a meeting with my colleagues after the students left today, I caught myself wondering how in hell I made it. I’m glad I did, no doubt. And I’m doing well. But how did I survive? And what can I bring to the table to help my students?

I work in an alternative education setting now with students who have drug abusing parents, who have been raped or molested (repeatedly in some cases), who shoot up drugs to dull the pain of extreme poverty and neglect. They have anxiety and paranoia and PTSD and psychosis. These kids are just babies at 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 years old. Some have have already sat for hours in front of judges or counselors or CFS agents at their tender ages with stony “yeah, and what the fuck are you going to do about it?” faces.

These youths, both in my classroom and in others all across our nation, are disenfranchised and in awful shape and are looking to us to do something about it. And what are we doing about it? One of my students fell through the systems’ cracks and is now missing on the freezing cold streets of Massachusetts.

It’s a 6 hour a day, 30 hour a week job that is paying the bills so why worry so much, right? But it’s more than that to me. These kids here in Salem and the ones I left behind in Maine are my  kids. They didn’t come out of my body (and I’m glad for that – can you imagine the stretch marks?) but they have my heart and dedication. I know I have to learn a certain amount of emotional separation, but I haven’t yet.

I’ll have something more intelligible to say about this eventually. I just had to get this off my chest.