Health


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A perfect Saturday afternoon

So, I don’t talk about this a lot, but it’s really hard to get out of the house. I have depression which makes it hard to get up and move and I have anxiety which means that when I do get out of the house, I can spend a lot of time feeling out of place and stupid, instead of just being in the moment where I am. Now, I’m an adult who is gainfully employed, so I do manage to get out of the house for things like my job and the essential errands I have to run to be a functional adult. But that often means that I have no energy to go out and do anything else.

One of the many reasons that meeting Ron was one of the best things that happened to me is that he makes it easier for me to go out and have fun. He will come with me to run errands, which makes it easier to do them and makes them less draining. And in more social and fun situations, he acts a buffer between me and that voice in my head that tells me I’m too weird and everyone is staring at my stupid outfit and that thing I said was really dumb and I should just go home where it’s nice and isolated. But, about six months ago, I got an amazing job opportunity in the Bay Area. Because Ron is supportive and wonderful, he encouraged me to take the job, and suddenly I am 400 miles away from my main support. (Ron and I are fine; we didn’t break up; we are doing a weird long distance thing for the moment, which admittedly sucks, but we have plans and shouldn’t be quite so long-distance in the not-too-distant future.)

I think ultimately, this has been a good thing, despite how much I miss him. It has forced me to be more independent and I have to say that my new job was right for my career. But I have been a bit of hermit these past few months. I don’t know many people up here; those I do know are busy people (as am I), and my anxiety makes it hard for me to do too much. I’ve been to a few knit nights, forced myself to go play guitar alone at a few open mics (more on that some other time), and gone to a few movies, but have done very little to explore my new neighborhood.

This Saturday the weather was beautiful and with Ron’s encouragement, I went to my city’s incredibly adorable downtown, where I took a walk and explored some of the shops. There is a great used bookstore, where I found an The Art of Fine Baking, an old baking book from the 1960’s, and The Good Housekeeping New Complete Book of Needlecraft from 1971. I love old cooking and craft books, especially ones with handdrawn illustrations, like in the picture below.

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I may never make a swiss broyage (or will I?), but tell me that isn’t an absolutely charming illustration?

I then settled at a little outdoor table in a small local coffee shop with my new book (Knitlandia by Clara Parkes), some tea, and my knitting (plus a cookie, because cookies are delicious). I had a wonderful time out and about and nothing terrible happened, in spite of my anxiety assuring me that it would.

Knitlandia is all about Clara Parkes’ ravels as a knitter to places like Iceland and the people she’s met, sometimes because she was unafraid to go talk to them. It’s a wonderful read, but on further reflections I am struck by irony…I’m afraid to go a few miles on my own, let alone to Iceland, even though I paradoxically dream of seeing far flung places and meeting interesting people. And while I wish that I could change how I feel immediately and be completely unafraid to jet off somewhere alone, that’s not how anxiety works. But I think that I’m going to make more of an effort to at least explore my own backyard. Maybe inch by inch I can make it to Iceland some day.

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Madroña Shawl

What I can do when I feel like myself.

So I’ve been feeling kind of blah the past few weeks. Some of it was because I was sad because of Danny. Some of it was post-Craftcation/post-Stitches let-down. Some of it was just a general bad feeling. I don’t know why, but I was just feeling blah.

I wasn’t running. I was eating lots more ice cream and junk food than normal (I try to be pretty sparing with it). I wasn’t knitting.

When I’m not knitting, I know that it’s gotten really bad.

I’m usually knitting constantly. When I watch TV, on my breaks at work, waiting for my food in a restaurant, at the movies. And I just didn’t feel like it.

This wasn’t a question of none of my projects exciting me. I just didn’t feel like knitting anything.

I thought that going to knit night last week would help, because usually being with my Stitch and Beach group is really inspiring. I see what other people are doing, I touch pretty yarn, and I fall back in love with knitting. But it didn’t help. I picked up my project. I set down my project. I picked it up again, I knit a few stitches, I set it down. I got home and it sat in my bag, unloved, while Ron and I watched Star Trek.

When I get into moods like these, there is only one thing I can do to pull myself out of them. I have to commit to a bunch more stuff. It seems counter-intuitive. I’m already feeling blah and overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t done. But somehow, by saying yes to a ton of commitments, I manage to jumpstart my dead emotional battery and then I’m energized again.

So, I signed up for a 5k and started a bootcamp class to get myself really motivated to run. I signed up for an acting class. I committed to a couple of singing gigs. And then I waited for it all to start working.

It took some time. I started to get scared and overwhelmed, but also a little excited at all the new projects I had in my life. And then last night, it finally happened. I went to knit night, and I knit, and I loved it. I was a focused knitting machine.

I got a lot of knitting done on my Madroña Shawl, and I enjoyed it. It was a good feeling. And then I came home and went for a run. And knit some more.

I’ve always found it funny that my method of overloading myself with commitments so I have no choice but to rise to the occasion is what always make me feel better. Now I just have to get through the next couple of weeks without collapsing! But it’s better (for me) to be too busy, rather than not have enough to do.

What about you? What do you do to chase away the blahs and feel like yourself again?

This is a catch-all post, wherein I will (finally!) tie up all the Liebster Award loose ends and share some good news.

So it took a couple of weeks, but I finally have my Liebster nominees! They are just a sampling of the small blogs I read, but all three of them are bloggers I appreciate and enjoy immensely. Go check them out!

In no particular order, I nominate

1. Jasmin of Better Than Yarn
2. Meg of Knit+Frills+Food=Love
3. Caitlin of All She Wants to Do Is Knit

Each blogger must post 11 random facts about themselves, nominate three to five other non-mainstream blogs that they appreciate, and they must respond to the following eleven questions (I use must here loosely. They must if they want to play and keep the recognition chain going):

1. What is your absolute favorite thing you’ve ever created?
2. Chocolate or vanilla?
3. Describe your ideal day.
4. What inspires you most?
5. How do you de-stress?
6. If you could give advice to yourself ten years ago, what would you say?
7. Which weight of yarn is your favorite?
8. What do you wish you could do that you currently can’t do?
9. What are your top five favorite movies?
10. What is your favorite kind of cake?
11. If you had to commit to one knitwear designer and could only knit his or her patterns for the rest of your life (no patterns designed by anyone else, EVER), which one would you pick?

And now, to finish up my Liebster experience, here are eleven random facts about me:

1. I love the ocean. If given my choice, I will never live more than an hour away from the ocean.
2. I always thought I hated running until I learned how to breathe properly. I learned to use my singer training to breathe when I run, and I’m a little ashamed that it took me nearly thirty years of life to figure it out.
3. Speaking of thirty, I am alternately kind of freaking out about and completely apathetic about my upcoming thirtieth birthday.
4. I really, really, really miss being in school. I particularly miss literature classes; I love reading books and discussing them.
5. I don’t wear jewelry or makeup, except my teeny nose stud. (I do wear makeup on stage).
6. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
7. I want to dye my hair pink or black and cherry red. Alas, my job precludes me having cool hair.
8. When I was eleven, I first read the book Contact and it had an inordinate influence on me. I still dream about going back to school to study astronomy. I have a biochemistry degree, so it’s not like it’s a huge career change. I had a subscription to Odyssey Magazine and an itty bitty telescope, that’s how much I loved space back then.
9. Sometimes I really miss the 90’s. I relive them by wearing skirts with Doc Martens.
10. I make awesome polenta. (Also, apparently Firefox spell check does not recognize “polenta” as a word).
11. I love good world building in a video game or science fiction/fantasy series. I will forgive a lot of issues with gameplay, plotting, or characterization if things are taking place in a world that I find fascinating. (I’m a geek and I won’t apologize.)

And finally, a quick tidbit of good news. My Celestarium was chosen to be featured in the Twist Collective March 2013 Newsletter. (Mine is number one in the collage of pictures). It makes me feel really good to be appreciated.

I started this blog in the beginning of 2012 because I wanted to spend more time doing the things I love. I wanted to spend more time focusing on the things that made me happy.

I think I was largely successful in the endeavor. It’s not that 2012 didn’t have it’s challenges, because it really did. The last half of the year was particularly sad and challenging. I lost some people, and that was really hard. I have some ongoing health problems and I had some ups and downs with those.

But 2012 also brought a lot of joy. My beautiful nephew was born. My closest and dearest friendships continue to grow in wonderful ways. I grew so much as an artist and a knitter and an actress. I kept reminding myself that 2012 was going to be about doing what I love, thinking about what I love, and spending time on what I love. It helped, a lot, when life got hard. And I think it worked so well becuase I didn’t really make “resolutions” about changing my behavior. I decided to change my outlook and my attitude, and that worked for me.

I started looking at things I wanted to do or wanted to have and instead of saying “I wish I could,” I did it. Which is how I ended up taking acting classes, doing the shows I did, going to Craftcation, discovering knitting podcasts, learning all kinds of new knitting techniques, and…ummm….acquiring a lot of stash. I’m not super proud of that last one, but I’m not super ashamed of it either. I had never really let myself buy amazing yarn before, and it really does make me feel more inspired to have beautiful yarn to knit with. And I didn’t do anything like go into debt over yarn.

But I’m a little overwhelmed lately. I have a lot of commitments. I spent a lot of time dashing off from one thing to another, with very little space to breathe. I found myself getting impatient when I had to wait, because I felt like “I have things to do, let’s go!” Even if it was waiting for Ron to take pictures of the fall leaves. I think that’s all okay, but the manic pace wore me out.

In 2013, I want to focus on less being more. In 2012, I gave myself permission to do things that I loved. It was great, but it was unfocused. I did a lot of everything. I got a lot of everything. In 2013, I want to give myself permission to be a little more focused. I’m only going to do something or buy something if it’s absolutely impossible to live without. I’m going to focus on using what I do have. I’m going to knit out of my stash, spend more time at home with Ron, work on practicing the things I’ve learned over the year. I spent 2012 sort of filling up the well if you were–getting a lot of the tools and inspiration and skills I need for the future. 2013 is less about that and more about using what I have to the fullest.

That’s not to say I won’t take a class or buy a skein of yarn that makes my heart sing. But I’m being more focused on my long-term goals right now. By doing less, I can do more with what I have. And I can focus on what’s around me, all the people and the beauty that I am so lucky to have in my life. I can let that inspire me in a different way than the manic pace of 2012 did. 2013 is slowing down, and I’m pretty happy about that.

A close up of the little prince shawlOkay, a full three months without an update.  Ugh.  Sorry about that.  So much has happened in that time.  I was in a little bit of a funk for some of the time, but luckily, I spent a lot of time doing things I love too.  So overall, it was a good time. I wish I could say that I did some work on my business, but I did nothing about that. Unfortunately. But I still did a lot.  There’s a lot to update on–knitting, theatre, and fitness–so I’ll divide this up into sections to update you on everything.

Haiku SocksKnitting:
1. I joined a knitting guild. There isn’t much to say about it, except that I’m glad to be a part of a group that gives me an opportunity to learn new techniques (we have monthly programs with guest teachers). I’m really excited.

2. I did finish the Haiku Socks from Knitted Socks East and West. If you have a Ravelry account, you can see my project page here. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, but I think if I made them again, I would make the leg section longer. I certainly had enough yarn (I have a fair amount left over). I have a few more skeins of the Jojoland Melody, but I’ve started using better sock yarn (more on that later), so I’ll use that up, but probably won’t be buying anymore of it.

3. I cast on and finished The Little Prince Shawl from The Unique Sheep (Ravelry page here). I knit it in their Luxe Yarn (which is a gorgeous Tussah silk/merino blend), in a gradience colorway called African Violets (which is green and transitions to purple). The picture up on the left is a detail of the lace with the clear 8/0 seed beads I put on. I loved knitting it, although the beading was a bit fiddly sometimes. But I’m incredibly happy with it.

Edith Sock WIP4. I cast on Edith Socks from the book Custom Knits Accessories. They are basic top down socks, with a lace panel in the middle and a picot cuff. I have cast off one sock and cast on the other one. I’m knitting these out of Malabrigo sock, and I LOVE it. It is more expensive than the sock yarns I usually buy, but it is totally worth it. The fabric it knits into is amazing. I started listening to this great podcast, The Anatomy of Knitting. Erin, the host, talks a lot about the yarns she uses and she uses really good yarns. It just made me change the way I think about yarn, because it made me realize that if the yarn knits up into something I really want to wear, it’s probably worth the money.

5. I cast on the Ready for the Floor Blanket (which you can only see on Ravelry). The knitting part is done, but I still have to block and assemble it. I’ll put up pictures when I’m done. The most exciting part of this is who it’s for. My sister-in-law is pregnant and due on Thanksgiving. This is my first little niece or nephew and I’m incredibly excited to have a wee one to knit for!

Theatre:
1. I was cast as Maria in a production of Twelfth Night that ran a few weekends in May. It was a great experience, with a great cast. I don’t get to do much Shakespeare, so that was especially awesome. I also got to work with a new director, whose work I’ve seen a lot and who I was really lucky to get to work with him. And the icing on the cake is that I got paid for doing this show. I don’t do it for the money, but it feels good anyway.

2. I am currently doing an all-women production of Julius Caesar. I’m playing Marullus and the Third Citizen. I haven’t had too many rehearsals yet, but I’m excited to be doing it. This is the first Shakespeare drama I get to do, which is extra exciting.

3. Immediately after that closes I’m doing a silly show about the Beat Movement and I get to play a folk singer. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

4. I’m taking a second acting class, with the same teacher from Acting I. It’s going really well; I’ve done quite a bit of good scene work and I’m just trying to grow as an actor.

Fitness:

1. I re-started the Couch to 5K program, but a different version than I did last time. This one is working out much better for me. Yesterday I was able to run for 20 minutes non-stop. That doesn’t sound like much, but I haven’t run like that in a long time, so it felt totally awesome to get to that point.

2. I’ve started using my bike to run a lot of errands and stuff, which is making my life a lot easier. I love biking so much, I can’t even tell you.

So that’s what’s been up with me lately. I’m incredibly busy, but that makes me happy, because (aside from work) I get to spend my time doing all the things that I love. And I promise I’ll be better at updating in the future, no matter how busy I get.

I used to write about politics a lot, on a different blog back when I was in college. I had more time then, and I felt full of energy and ready to take on the world. Then I got completely burned out. I got tired of arguing over things. That’s not to say that I can’t tolerate opinions that aren’t my own, but it’s incredibly frustrating to write about something like women’s reproductive rights and never have the discussion move beyond “Sluts should close their legs!” or “What about choice for the menz!” when I was talking about forcible sterilizations or they hypocrisy of the Hyde Amendment.

But I really have to talk about the current climate in the United States regarding reproductive rights now. According to the Guttmacher Institute a full 55% of women now live in states that are hostile to abortion rights and a record 92 different provisions restricting access to abortion were passed at the state level in 2011. You can see from the above graph, that women who live in abortion-friendly states, but the “middle-ground” states are shrinking.

2012 has not fared much better. Every time I turn around, it seems like another state is trying to force women to go through some kind of waiting period or mandatory ultrasound or to outlaw abortion at earlier and earlier dates. Worse still, Arizona is attempting to pass a law allowing doctors to withhold information from pregnant patients, all in the name of preventing abortion. This means that even if the woman has a condition that could severely disfigure or kill her, or if her fetus has severe defects, the doctor would have no legal obligation to tell her. The irony, of course, is that the same people behind this law are people who argue in favor of mandatory ultrasounds and forcing the patient to view the ultrasound and listen to a doctor’s description of said ultrasound because “a woman should have all the information about what she is doing, so she can make an informed choice.” I guess informed choice only applies to the choice to not have an abortion. Informed choice apparently isn’t important if the woman might die unless she has an abortion.

And I’m not going to get too much into the idea that employers should be able to control what an employee’s earned healthcare covers, except to say that healthcare is compensation for work you do as an employee. It is wages, so the idea that your employer should be able to deny you coverage for something that is against their personal beliefs is ridiculous. It is really the equivalent to an employer objecting to you spending your wages on alcohol because they are Mormon. I actually have a lot of thoughts about the folly and hypocrisy and abuses of religious exemptions, but that’s another post for another day. I’ll just leave the contraception situation as an example of yet another attack on women’s health and reproductive rights.

Look, this is going to sound simplistic, but women are fully realized, autonomous people who are capable of make their own decisions about what they want. They don’t need an ultrasound to know that they are pregnant now and won’t be pregnant after they have an abortion. And sometimes, like in this case the law is particularly cruel, and rubbing salt into an already incredibly painful wound. But even if the woman isn’t terminating a wanted pregnancy, sometimes ending an unwanted pregnancy is a difficult decision (and sometimes it’s not. Women are all different and have different feelings about things–imagine that!) and putting more emotional and financial hurdles in the way is dick thing to do. And even if the ultrasound changes a woman’s mind and opts not to get an abortion, this does not change the situation that made her seek one in the first place. She will still have the same financial, emotional, medical, relationship, work, and/or physical troubles that made her not want to be pregnant in the first place.

I trust women. I trust women to make their own medical decisions about reproduction and pregnancy and how to handle that. It’s been said over and over again, but it has to be repeated until people get it, but the only people who should be involved in a women’s reproductive health decisions are the woman herself and her doctor. Everyone else should just butt out.

SunsetI haven’t written for a bit. I’ve been busy–going to rehearsal, Disneyland, seeing my friends’ band, and riding my bike a whole lot. I ride it to rehearsals a lot. Riding to work is a little trickier, because I have to ride over two freeway overpasses…and, not to sound like every biker ever, but, seriously, some drivers are straight-up jerks. I almost got sideswiped on a practice ride last weekend by a jerk who didn’t want to share the road. (I don’t know why he didn’t just pass me in the next lane over–the road is four lanes wide). It’s made me a little skittish about that route.

The other thing I’ve been doing is running. I am on Week 2 of the Couch to 5k running plan. I’m not actually terribly out of shape, but I have never been a runner. I find swimming and biking to be infinitely easier.

I’ve tried running on a treadmill before, but I find myself watching the clock and I get really antsy and bored. I was always self-conscious about running outside before, but I’ve stopped caring in the past few weeks. I’ve taken my running routine outside and I feel like it’s much easier to motivate myself to do it. I get to see the scenery and my neighbors. My neighborhood is actually really cute and there is a great trail to run and bike on. And I usually go around sunset, so when I’m done I can take arty nonsense pictures like the one up there.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Also, I finished my wristlets, and started on a scarf out of my kidsilk haze. Pictures to come later.

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