Crocheting Lessons

I am that person who crochets through meetings. Especially long ones. I’ll bring a bag of yarn, with my work in progress on top, and once the talking starts I’ll start  crocheting.

I recently had a three-day-long conference. Read: lots of crocheting time! And so I gathered together my largest project, what will become a bedspread-sized afghan and is currently the size of a large lap blanket that barely fits into one bag with all of the yarn. Between meetings, I was the one who stood so that I could fold my work in progress, then stuff it forcefully into the bag because otherwise it wouldn’t fit.

A project that big feels progress-less. I would have to sit for days to see the blanket get noticeably larger, when it takes an afternoon’s meeting to expand the blanket with one more band of color.

IMG_2048

It’s not discouraging, exactly–I can see my yarn deplete, see how much yarn I’m using–but it feels slow.

And yet during the days of meetings, multiple people told me they were impressed with my progress.

I did the shy, awkward, “Thanks,” half-looking at them, because no, I had not made all that much progress, despite us sitting there together in the same room for three hours so far.

Except, of course, I always appreciate when people say I’ve done something well. And once I got over that first awkwardness, I was able to look at my blanket. I’ve been working on it for months and months. I know how much yarn and time has gone into it already. I worked on it when a band of color took all of three minutes, when I hadn’t expanded it outward to epic proportions yet and it was the size of a coaster. And I see how much work still needs to be done, how much more needs to be crocheted before it’s a full-sized afghan.

I am intimately acquainted with this blanket, in other words, in a way those commenters are not.

I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. There’s something limiting about being so close; there’s nothing wrong with having someone on the outside say, “You’re doing good work; you’re making progress.” It’s hard to see that when you’re in the midst of everything. And now I’m not talking about just crocheting anymore, because there are plenty of places in my life where I feel like I’m not doing enough, that I’m making no progress despite still working at it, still stitching or writing or working away. Sometimes those outside of it, those who know nothing about it, can see the progress you’ve made when you can’t see it because you know the final goal. Or they can see how hard you’ve worked when you just can’t.

Yes, I’m still working on that blanket, but I’m a bit more confident that I made some progress.

Advertisements

Some small things

It's been a while!

I really hate starting with that–and I hate having started with that so often in the history of this blog.

I just…haven't felt like I've had much to write about. Part of that was taking on a new job at the beginning of last month, which put me at just about full-time between all of my jobs. What a transition! It hasn't been bad, really. It's been tough, sure, and an adjustment, but I really love it. It's a good job. But between the new job and my other jobs, there have been lots of little good moments (and lots of irritating, frustrating ones, too!) but nothing big enough that I wanted to write a whole post about it.

But good grief it's been a long time since I wrote anything here.

And I think those little moments are worth celebrating and cherishing–and isn't that what I wanted to do here, in this space? find the good and beautiful and God in the routines and small moments of life? So let's take a moment–let's celebrate all the tiny things that being us joy. For me, that's been:

  • Walking to work. It's a tiny way to make space for myself, and I love it.
  • My new friend.
  • Going to the park. I live right by one, and I've finally rediscovered that is a great place to go to read or get some work done.
  • Beautiful sunsets. Enough said, right?
  • Work. Definitely not every day–but there's something beautiful about seeing a task be completed, and being the one working towards that. There's something wonderful about having a clearly defined goal.
  • Crocheting. I've been crocheting more lately and loving it! I find it such a soothing way to spend an hour or two.
  • Writing. Surprising no one but myself, developing a regular writing habit has been giving me so, so much joy. (Perhaps this is a post for another time, but why do we so vehemently avoid the parts of life that give us the most joy?)
  • Rain. We've had so much rain here I've the past month, and I love it. It's my favorite weather, full of such beauty and potential.

What about you? What small things have you been loving?

Quiet

Lately I’ve been craving quiet. I don’t necessarily mean lack of noise; I mean more a lack of technological noise, a space to think. Sometimes that has looked like a lack of noise, turning off podcasts and music and videos for a bit to just be. Sometimes it’s looked like reading a book instead of watching something. Sometimes it’s looked like going for a walk.

It surprised me. I haven’t been avoiding things by drowning them out with TV marathons. I haven’t been shoving them into games I didn’t really want to play. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, but those are about learning and listening, not avoiding. I guess I forgot that they’re still noise. There’s still beauty and space in quiet, even when I’m filling my quiet with good things. 

So I read a book. I went for a walk, and instead of putting a podcast on just observed. I thought about my upcoming sermon, and bumble bees, and summer plans, and poetry. It wasn’t frantic; everything slowed down in a way that normally only writing can accomplish. 

I’m not going to make promises I won’t keep and say that I’m going to always look for more quiet now. But it’s been really nice, and I hope I can keep seeking out the quiet in my life. I hope I can be a little less frantic and hit pause sometimes.

Ridiculous Expectations

I have a lot of expectations. Of myself, of others, of products and fictional universes–but mostly of myself. I’m perfectly willing to admit that other people are flawed, and do things that don’t make sense, and need days of rest. I’m almost as willing to admit that my favorite character isn’t perfect, or that the fictional universe doesn’t have to be what I really, really want it to be.

But myself? It’s so much harder to give up my own expectations for myself.

So many of my expectations are ones I don’t even realize I have. Like when it comes to adults: I can verbalize that adults are not perfect and do not have it all together. Really, though, I still believe that other adults are in fact perfect, or at least have this adulting thing down to an art, and I’m the only one still bumbling along, avoiding doing my taxes or taking my car to the mechanic. I have this expectation that adults doing avoid anything, ever, and certainly clean and do laundry on a regular basis and want to go to work. I’m not even sure where these expectations came from, actually, because I don’t actually know any adults who want to go to work all the time, and it’s ridiculous to think that no one ever avoids doing things or always does all of their chores. And, see, I can name that ridiculousness, but I still feel guilty thinking of the pile of laundry I need to do. 

And when it comes to writing–boy, do I have some expectations about that. I expect myself to write consistently, ideally an hour or two every morning before I go do some laundry or whatever. I expect my ideas to come regularly (but not overwhelmingly). I expect the words to come easily. I expect myself to always balance perfectly the need to write and writing for money and writing becoming addictive again and writing what I love and writing well. And then I get so frustrated when, oddly, I am not perfect. And, see, I can recognize that these expectations are ridiculous, too, but that isn’t that helpful when I’m in the midst of feeling like a worthless writer because I have no ideas or haven’t blogged in two weeks, or like a worthless human being because I’ve fallen into addictive, destructive behaviors towards stories, or like a failure because I want to write so much that I sit at my computer and watch Netflix because sometimes feelings are just too overwhelming. 

And, yes, recognizing a problem is the first step in solving it. Sure. But I’ve always struggled with this and I suspect I always will. I struggle with my ridiculous expectations, but I’ve also been doing the work to let those expectations go.

Not a Robot


Here’s my latest writing update. As you can see, it’s not very consistent or prolific. I reached my goal of an hour a week only twice. And I’m frustrated that I made so little progress. I know I can do better. 

However, it was a difficult few weeks emotionally. Nothing happened, really, but I struggled again with being unemployed and with what I have been learning or should be learning. As much as I’ve loved a lot of the past few months in really unexpected ways, making what feels like little progress is frustrating, and I let that frustration overwhelm me and keep me from writing. 

So… Not as good as I hoped. At all. 

But: I am not a robot. I cannot expect myself to always feel like writing. I cannot expect myself to always write one hour, exactly, not one second more or less. I cannot expect myself to always write well, always be completely undistracted. I am not a robot. It’s okay if I don’t feel like writing, or if I need a day off. Yes, I would like to build writing into a more regular habit, and yes, not feeling like writing isn’t always an excuse to not write. Yes, absolutely, and I am working to write more consistently. That’s why I post these updates. But, as I work towards building this habit, sometimes I need to remember to give myself a little grace, instead of being frustrated that I’m not perfect. 

Give yourself a little grace. You’re not a robot, either.

Writing Update

I really enjoyed updating you on how much writing I’ve done. It was a nice way to feel accountable and inspire myself to keep going, which is why I decided to continue doing updates.

Here are my totals for the past two weeks:


I kept the same goal of writing one hour a day. As you can see, I’ve been more successful this month at reaching at least an hour of writing in a day, which always feels like the big mile marker. Actually reaching it is such a rush! 
It’s funny that I’ve reached an hour more this month, because my focus has shifted. I started focusing more on the every day part of my goal, and just being excited when I wrote every day. If I only wrote ten minutes–well, I wrote. If I didn’t write anything for publication–well, I wrote. Taking the pressure of reaching sixty minutes off of myself was so helpful and freeing, because then I could just focus on writing. Once I took that pressure off, I started to write more days and to reach an hour of writing more often. 

I always forget how important it is to give myself grace and be kind to myself, but I learned that lesson again these past few weeks.

Here’s to learning it again as we go forward!

What have you been writing and learning?

Perfect Writing

One of the reasons I haven’t been writing much lately is because I want everything to be just right. I want to feel that sweet spot of confidence and inspiration; I want to be somewhere that’s exactly the right mix of quiet, comfortable, and interesting but not distracting; I want to be sure what I’ll be writing while also knowing I’ll be flexible enough to accept if the piece doesn’t go exactly as I’d planned; I want to feel surrounded by God and loved enough that I know I’ll be able to trust myself and trust God. I want everything to be just so when I sit down to write. 

And some days, I really am not ready to write, or something else really does come up. And that’s fine.

Most days, however, when all of those factors don’t line up exactly, it’s also fine. It doesn’t feel like it; I feel unsettled enough that it’s harder to sit down to write, or I use it as an excuse for not writing. I can’t do it just so today, so I just won’t do it. I don’t feel capable of perfection, or my best, or the impossible standard that I perceive as my best, or even something that’s ‘good enough.’ 

Like I said, some days I really can’t write well. There’s nothing wrong with that. But most days when I don’t feel ‘ready’ to write, don’t feel like I’ll be good enough–it’s not true. What I write may not be perfect (well–I hate to break it to myself, but duh), but editing exists. There’s value in writing anyway, in listening to the words and to God and sitting in that space of ‘I don’t know what to write’ and ‘Can I really write?’ and ‘What am I doing?’ There’s value in writing anyway. 

Sometimes I just needed to start, just needed to reassure myself that I still remember how to write. Sometimes the words really aren’t ready, or I’m not ready to write them. Sometimes I really just wasn’t ready to write.

But there’s value in writing anyway. 

That’s what I’m learning, and relearning, and relearning, in this season.