Several years ago my sister-in-law had a psychic come to her house to do readings and I think I was first in line. As a planner and one who likes to know the answers, I couldn't wait to be told what would happen in the future. During my reading she told me I needed to get creative again...that it was really missing from my life. And it was. But honestly, who has time to be creative...unless you are in an artistic career. The most creative thing I was doing at that point was changing my eyeshadow from brown to lilac. That stuck in the back of my mind for years though, and I kept trying to find time to be more creative. Back in high school, my senior year english teacher told me I should really pursue writing but to me it seemed like something you did on the side for fun, not as a career. In college I sold a few paintings. Believe me, I am no Picasso, but painting and drawing was something I always loved to do. When I had kids, I channeled my creativity into making homemade birthday party invitations, designed "whimsical" parties, and whipped up fun snacks and treats that looked like animals and flowers. Clearly I focused my artistic energy into my number one priority, my kids...not myself.
Fast forward to my sabbatical and I suddenly had time to rediscover my artistic interests and I did so first, by grouting sea glass and shells into my tub surround. It gave me the boost I needed to get the creative juices flowing again. Then I upped the stakes and signed up for a watercolor painting class. I found myself painting for two hours one day after the kids left for school. The picture I created that day is now hanging in my living room. I didn't feel guilty for one second about "wasting" that time. That is what Stressed Out Kelly would have called it. Instead I felt accomplished, creative, happy, and peaceful. One of the first pictures I made was of the sun setting over the sea. I loved it so much I framed it and put it over my tub. Every day I look at it and smile. And not because it is some fantastic painting but it reminds me of Little Kelly and the things she used to love to do. Every day I get to see a piece of the old me and it reminds me to keep pushing myself to pull off those old layers and get back to the real me.
Last week I joined a knitting circle. Okay, I know what you are thinking....I am not turning into an old lady. Just like 40 is the new 30, knitting is the new painting. Over the summer, I had conversations with a few friends about getting together to knit. My mother in law is an incredibly accomplished and talented knitter who has tried to teach me over the years, but since I am a type A freak, my wiring says I need to have goals and be measured on my accomplishments...which weren't many when I was responsible for self motivating myself to knit. So, the idea of a group of people getting together to learn a new skill AND be artistic...with deadlines...was incredibly attractive to me. And let's be honest...I love to chat with my girlfriends so add that into the list of benefits and I could hardly contain myself.
There are 3 of us in the circle...or perhaps I should call it a triangle. Our "Ringleader" is a very experienced, accomplished knitter who is a patient, natural teacher. She also has ten bins of yarn and about 30 sets of knitting needles, all in tidy organizers. Holy Knitting. One of the things I like most is watching her relive her memories of learning from and knitting with her mom, who passed away two years ago. As a mother, I would find great pride in having Mimi or Jack talk so fondly about something we did together..and to realize what an impact it has had on them in their lives.
Our other member is a great, intermediate knitter who learned the craft from her mother in law. She came with her fantastic knitting needles and beautiful chunky yarn in the bag that her mother in law had knitted and felted for her. I arrived with my leftover halloween candy in a plastic baggie, a bottle of wine, Mimi's knitting needles, and multi color pink/purple/orange yarn. Whatever bitches.
In the first half hour I was outed as a "tense knitter". Yeah...maybe I was tense because I was working with the Martha Stewart of Knitting and her Sidekick. I was determined to be good at this and did okay for the first few rows. I got home and knit for a solid hour...like a woman possessed. Insert the sound of tires screeching. When I stopped to take a look I realized that although I had started with 30 stitches, I now had 42 stitches on my needles...and somehow I had knit two holes into my scarf. What the what?! The next day I picked it up again and ended up with Knitters Thumb...is that common?
Here are the top 5 things I have learned so far (and by so far I mean one meeting of our knitting triangle):
5. According to our Ringleader, if you can't see your mistakes from a galloping horse, they are fine. I can actually use my scarf as a headpiece, complete with two eye holes, for my galloping horse so I know this isn't a keeper.
4. You might start out making a scarf but end up making a Barbie blanket. Roll with it. Be flexible.
3. Things that are homemade are just that. They are made with love, have mistakes, and not only reflect the personality of the person they are made for, but also reflect the person who made them. In my case, if I make something for you, keep a sense of humor about it.
2. Taking time to do things that you enjoy and energize you are worth every second.
1. Sometimes you think the moment is about you but then you realize its bigger than you. Here I was thinking that we were just getting together to knit and learn a new skill, but what I realized is that each time we get together in our triangle, my friend has an opportunity to feel closer to her mother. That's priceless.
So, do you want a scarf or a poncho for Christmas?