The Power of Friendship

I’ve been quiet of late for a variety of reasons not the least of which is that major currents are running through my life right now in ways that make me feel very vulnerable to the will of the ocean. I’ve had much reason to become mistrustful, and it has colored my perception of the world around me to a point that I’d severed or strangled many of the relationships in my life. As many of you know, my relationship of eleven years recently ended, and, as public as much of my recent life has been, I remain a somewhat private person. I was adrift, and the sea around me seemed dark, dangerous, and mostly devoid of life.

I did what I think most people would do in that situation. I struggled. I rushed around trying to put together some lifeboat that would see me through, and while I’ve had some success in that regard, I still felt very much alone. My dear family in Georgia has been very supportive, and I have a few good friends here in Michigan who were kind enough to keep tabs on me, but for the most part, my days since September 8, 2009—the day I was asked to packed my things and leave the business that I’ve spent the last seven years building with my former partner—have been desolately empty.

It wasn’t because no one cared or contacted me. Several did. One friend took me out to lunch and listened to the whole sordid tale before offering me a place to stay for a while with both dogs if need be. A couple of friends took me to dinner on a couple of different occasions. Several others have offered similar lunches, dinners, coffees, and the like. But I was going to fix this. I alone had the power.

But I didn’t.

My mom went into the hospital Thursday with an extremely high blood calcium level, lethargy, and impaired kidney function. Yesterday, I found out that it’s likely her cancer is back. She should get the diagnosis today.

Through all of this… through my entire life, my mother has been a strident supporter, a friend of amazing strength and understanding, and of course, the guide and nurturer that all parents hope to be. She’s succeeded. And through her strength, my sister and I along with our families have gotten through the last six years of her battle with ovarian cancer. And in the midst of my own battle, her cancer is back.

I was devastated. I came home, lay down across my bed with a dog on either side trying to comfort me, and just sank. I let go. With waves crashing all around me, I let go of everything and just let myself sink into it. I didn’t cry. I didn’t pray. I just fell.

Then something twitched. It occurred to me to pray, and I did. The tears wouldn’t quite come, but something was moving beneath the surface. I called a friend: someone totally out of the situation except for our friendship. And the weeping began. And we talked. And I cried. And we talked. There was no advice. Just talking. Just getting it out. And in getting it out, I started to find myself. Find my strength. Find that bit that my mother herself nurtured in me. The me part of me.

And in that, I saw that on any ocean, you are never alone. Life abounds around you. Even in the smallest drop of water, life abounds. I started to see the foolishness of my previous attitude… my silence… my stoicism and hermitage. How blind I was. But no more.

I need help. And help is out there. I have put great good out into the world over the forty years of my life, and there are some amazing people who have been trying to give some back. I’ve pushed them away out of some ridiculous notion that I somehow needed to deal with everything myself, but that’s over. I started calling friends, and amazingly enough, several friends have started calling me… offering help that they’d stopped offering weeks ago because of my attitude. Yet somehow, as if on cue, they’re back.

One friend directed me to a James Mapes article, and through it, I found this blog post on friendship that seemed remarkably fitting.

I’m still in the water, and the waves continue to crash. But I’m not alone. I see that now. And I don’t have to do this alone. Thank you, everyone. Your kindnesses are more deeply appreciated than I will ever be able to express.

Women’s Interaction Survey

Monday, I posted a survey asking where women interact.  It’s an informal thing, but I’m curious.  I had a belief based on anecdotal evidence, and no one really seemed to disagree dramatically.  I’d been led to believe that women didn’t spend a lot of time socializing outside work and home, and while my point was certainly not proven, the survey suggested that, of the respondents, most interact with other women primarily at work (17% of the 126 respondents… and no, at that number, I can draw no real assumptions).  10% responded that their primary social outlets were in their own, friends’, or family’s homes.  That seemed to compare as expected against the work numbers.

I may have botched the numbers significantly with two similar responces:  Regularly scheduled needle- or fiber-arts social group (12%) and Needle- or fiber-arts guild meeting (7%).  I intended these to be separate things, but on second reading, I can see how they’d overlap.  It’s a significant number, though, regardless.  The two combined would overwhelm the leading work response.  And 8% listed a local yarn shop as their social outlet of choice.

6% Children’s school, sporting, or artistic events
6% Dining out
5% Non-fiber-related club or organization meeting
5% Theater or cinema outings
4% Yarn shop to which you travel more than a half-hour
4% Place of worship
4% Bookstore
3% Gym or exercise
3% Other answer…
2% Charitable work
2% Bar, pub, or nightclub
2% Bridge or other gaming group
1% Shopping
1% School (as a student)

Responses for Other include:  on a walk, regularly scheduled non-needle- or fiber- group, coffee shop, and, of course, all of the above.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think these numbers reasonable reflect where women get their social interacting done?  Is it happening more frequently online now?  Am I missing anything obvious?  I’m genuinely interested in this being a dialogue.  Please, jump in.

Quick side note:  I’m really glad to see that the bridge or gaming group got some votes.  As a board and card game enthusiast myself, I sometimes feel like a dying breed.

Social Interaction and knitting

I’ve frequently suffered from hoof-in-mouth disease.  I say the wrong thing at the wrong time in the presence of the wrong person, and thankfully, I get politely called on it.  Recently, I made the comment that many women over thirty have few social outlets.  It wasn’t intended to be pejorative, and I definitely didn’t mean any offense.  I’ve just been told repeatedly by staff, customers, and friends, that there’s no place in the lives of women like a yarn shop in terms of a place to interact socially with other women.

Now, to be frank, I probably wouldn’t have made such a comment prior to operating a yarn shop for several years, but I’ve got to say that this is something that I’ve heard a lot… from numerous unrelated sources.  I’m not trying to prove anyone wrong.  I’m just curious.  Where do women interact?  If I’ve not offered your best response, please, leave a comment.

[polldaddy poll=2168750]

And on…

There’s a proverbial “ancient Chinese curse” whose age and place of origin I cannot verify. It’s a wish that one live in interesting times. These are they.

Leaving my job and relationship was difficult, and certainly not having an income is scary as hell. That’s not to oddest part, though. What’s truly interesting is my own lack of… well, direction. Obviously, I’m sending out resumes and filling out applications. I’m also working to develop the contacts I would need to start my own web design and development business. I’m also brushing up on a lot of the technical skills that I’ve let atrophy a bit while working in a retail environment.

I even attended the Michigan Works Job Fair yesterday at Lansing Center. I had to scramble a bit because I’ve worn business casual or just plain casual for most of the last eight years, and as incredible as it must seem, I’ve put on a pound or two since I last purchased business attire. I got my hair cut, took out my earrings, got—in the lexicon of my youth—purty, and headed to town. I did make a few wonderful contacts, and I’m genuinely excited about the prospects of a couple.

That said, there was an awful lot of recruitment for positions for which I simply have too many teeth. If you’re a meth head and are reading my blog, when you’re going for a job interview, you should really consider soap. Your Sunday jeans might also be a good idea. And if at all possible, delouse. Oh, and stop reading my blog. Ew.

What’s blowing me away, though, is how much time there is in a day. What on earth are you supposed to do with it all? I mean… I’m using it to try to find a job, of course, but after all of the running around and spending hours on Monster and Career Builder and Dice and Thingamajob and every business’ website who, when I visited them in person, said, “you should visit our website,” I’m left to walk the dogs, fix myself some lunch, and figure out which other thousand sites to visit that afternoon. Seriously.

Fortunately, I really am in good spirits. It’s been sunny, and there’s been considerable promise—at least from retail businesses—in terms of looking for Christmas help in the next few weeks. I’m also amazed at the number of jobs for which I actually am qualified. I haven’t gotten any callbacks, yet, but I’m hopeful.

Knitting? Now that’s another story. I’ve not knit a stitch in weeks. I have had several ideas, though, so once I am again gainfully employed, I’ll be very happy to get my fingers dirty with a little design work. In the meantime, the pups are good, Rob and I are figuring out how we intend to cohabit, and I’m actually feeling very purposeful. Interesting, no?

Saturday Rediscovered

I’ll be the first one to admit that down-time is a good thing for anyone, but the fact is that I’m just not terribly good at it quite yet. After mowing not only my own lawn but the back lawns of the three adjacent neighbors (yeah, I’ve got a little nervous energy working), I did spend about two-and-a-half hours watching the second season of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer because I hadn’t and a friend told me that it was necessary. In retrospect, I see her point, but that was all I could take before I had to get up and actually do something.

I sent out more resumes, and I followed up on a couple of housing options. I spent some time reading, I did some laundry, I did the breakfast dishes (oh, and the omelet was eggcellent), I folded laundry, and I did a little necessary shopping. While in the car with my mother on speakerphone, I was told in no uncertain terms that I must eat something other than the omelet today (a little tense tummy action working this week, and I’ve not been eating much), so I did finally stop at KFC for a sandwich and fries.

Now I’m back at the house, and I’m going to do a little braindump before I head to bed. This whole unemployment thing can be tiring.

Saturday Morning Fever

I rolled out of bed at 9:38am.  On a Saturday morning, I got out of bed at twenty-to-ten.  You don’t have to get how nice that was, but I do, and it was glorious.  Busby was still snoring in his crate at the head of my bed, and Tate was curled into his accustomed little fox roll at my knees.  I rolled over, powered up the Blackberry, and scrolled through several good tidings after last night’s posts.  Thank you to everyone.  I sincerely appreciate your concern and fond wishes.

As for today, though, I’ve just watched the morning fog lift off the river.  I’ve had my shower and powered up the laptop to wish the world a good morning.  I’ll be heading downstairs to mow the lawn shortly, but I don’t hear much activity up the block so I’m hesitant to rev up the mower.  For now, I’m enjoying the view over the river and Riverwalk and into the park across the way… the view that sold me on this house to begin with.  It’s been my little corner of pastoral life in the middle of central Lansing.  There’s a blue heron wading in the shallows, and I hear the ducks bickering from time to time.  The trees across the water are just starting to show the first signs of changing leaves, and I likely won’t be here to see them in their full autumnal finery.  I have, however, gotten a lead on a potential replacement.

I’m heading downstairs to let the dogs out, put on coffee, and start breakfast.  As I mentioned last night, I’ve got my heart set on a nice, fat omelet and crisp, buttery toast.

There’s a kayaker on the river, now.  Good day for it.  Better days are coming.

Starting fresh

It’s true that I’m no longer affiliated with ThreadBear Fiber Arts Studio. There is loss involved. I suspect that it will take a while to work through that loss, but I’m well, the dogs are well, and we’re all moving on.

Beyond that, I’m in the first hour of my first real Saturday off in what seems like forever. I just got back in from a little light grocery shopping, and I’ve got onions, mushrooms, and ham for an omelet and a nice whole wheat bread for toast. I plan on mowing the lawn, cleaning house a bit, folding some laundry, and maybe even getting a little knitting done. I also have several videos that are due tomorrow that I’ve yet to watch, and I expect I’ll run those while I’m folding and knitting.

Sound boring? Then you’ve obviously never worked years on end of six day workweeks that always… always included both Saturday and Sunday. It’s amazing what you can look forward to when you’ve lived without it for a while.

So, I’ve acquired a little bit of my life back. I’m also unemployed with two dogs to feed, and sometime soon, I get to move. It’s not an ideal situation, but I am excited. I’ve always been a fan of change, and this change, while bittersweet, is for the best.

Stay tuned for updates regarding food and cooking, my knitting (of course), the dogs, the move, and the hunt for an employed October. Light a candle, say a prayer, and come back to see me soon.

News from the back office

Believe it or not, I do still exist! And not only do I exist, I’ve actually been doing things. I know. It’s mystifying.

Ok. I’ve been doing lots of work on a new website for ThreadBear to be announced soon with lots of new features and LOTS more product. Of course, I’ll get more details to you as soon as we’re in a position to make things public.

My mom did wind up having surgery for the cancer that I mentioned in a recent (stop laughing… it’s still on the screen at the time of this writing) post. She did not, however, require chemo this time, so BONUS! Go Moma! She’s since been to a seafood festival in Panama City Beach FL, an anniversary party in Brenham TX, and… Oh, wait. That’s not happened yet! She will be going to ThreadBear Fiber Arts Studio in Lansing MI in a couple of weeks to visit yours truly! WOOT! Yeah, that’s a good one.

She’s finished the baby blanket that we decided on for the new baby that’s due in October. My niece does appear to be having some issues with the pregnancy, but everything seems to be under control. For my own part, I finished a baby jacket from my own handspun yarn for the new addition, and I’m working on a jacket for my great nephew who just turned three. I can’t make something for the baby without giving him something! Good Lord! I can’t start sibling rivalry right off the bat. I’ll have pics tomorrow.

As for today, I’ve just finished getting photos up of Rob’s hand-dyed sock treasures at the main site.

What else? I guess you’ll just have to stop back by to see. Me? I’m headed home for some much needed R&R. Later!

What’s up

My mom’s had another cancer issue. It is being resolved as quickly and as effectively as medical science allows, but it’s still a pisser. She’s tough, my sweet Southern Moma, but I worry about her. And I try not to get her involved with drama here. That winds up meaning calling less, though, and she’ll string me up by the short hairs if I call her any less. Like I said, my sweet Southern Moma can be tough. So we stay in touch.

I haven’t given her the good news, though. I think we have a very strong candidate for the new great grandbaby’s knitting project. Kathy came up with it, and I think it’s great. Unfortunately, it’s at the shop, and I’m at home. So, that will have to be revisited.

For today, though, I’m home at the dining room table with Busby baking into the carpet at the screen out to the deck. There’s light traffic on Oakland, and the mowers have been out in the park across the river. A young woman’s walking a chocolate lab up the Riverwalk path, and a jogger in State shorts coming the other way has slowed to a walk with his jersey over his head catching his breath.

I’m forty, now. We had a party and everything. I was delighted by the black balloons particularly once I realized that I was still nearly if not the youngest person in the room. Since, I’ve had a stomach virus, picked up a taste for Gatorade G2 Strawberry-Kiwi, picked up smoking again briefly (don’t comment… my mother’s already been all over it), and am now still kind of trying to put a diet back together. Not a Diet, mind you, but a diet. A food plan. A sustenance plan with room for delight.

I like food, and I miss cooking. I just recently uncovered a copy of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. I’m hoping for great things, but a decent meal every once in a while would be satisfactory. In the meantime, I’m glad it’s summer. Produce looks fantastic at the local shops. Even my favorite Asian market appears to have some fresh seasonal offerings. I haven’t a clue what several of them are, but maybe I’ll get a chance to find out. Maybe not.

I’ve been working on getting a new ThreadBear website up and running over the last several months, and we’re hoping to get that open to the public soon. Of course, given the time of year, we’ve been meeting with sales reps from various yarn, pattern, and accessory companies in anticipation of the fall season and the TNNA Market in June. That’s always entertaining. I’m sure this year won’t disappoint. I’m most intrigued by the idea of getting to see what’s new coming down the pike. That’s this show for most yarn shop owners. There’s a fashion show the night before the Market opens, and vendors from all over show you when they’ve got. It’s very cool… and very tempting. We try to shop there primarily for chocolate jimmies to put on top of what we’ve already ordered with sales reps. It’s easier to browse if we’re not pressed for getting our fall orders in, and it’s helped us find some of the more interesting products that have graced the shelves at ThreadBear. Personally, I can’t wait.

For today, though, I’m going to finish up K1CToo and Rowan and see what else remains to get online at the new site.

A Personal Blog