That’s it, that’s all

This morning I set out to write my last blog of One Single Winter and thought I’d check out what I had originally set out to do (see One Single Winter Explained). I realized that I was going to write from time change to time change instead of solstice to solstice. And guess what? I missed writing on March 11th, time change day.

So here we are, almost one full day into Spring, the solstice behind us by 18 hours, the time change behind us by 10 days, and I’m going to wrap this baby up for you…

I did it. WE did it. We all made it through another winter, another season of dark and cold and snow and sleet. We made it through family holidays, hallmark holidays, drinking holidays…we did it!!

This year, I personally made it through with far more ease than ever before in my life. I met new people…

 

took up a new hobby…

lastone

wrote when I needed to share what was going on (the good and the bad) and when I couldn’t write, I learned to play…

lastone-5

I got outside and exercised despite the wicked temperatures…

 

I ate healthy…

 

I took care of living things…

 

I decided to fight back instead of laying down and suffering through it. And, it helped.

We did it!

Happy Spring everyone!! I hope your summers are awesome and that you are able to suck up every single day of sunshine and warmth to help you through next winter.

I’m happy to see the end of this one single winter. Thanks everyone for being there to help me through.

Advertisements

It’s a big, important day here

One year ago today I quit smoking cold turkey. No props. No aids. No replacements. There are people who are near and dear to me that don’t know this…because I never said anything. I just quit. It’s something that I never thought I could do. Something I never pictured myself doing. But there you go.

My friend Josie was an integral part of actually being able to do this. Without her, I don’t think quitting smoking would have happened so smoothly…maybe even not at all.

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 6.45.02 PM

One year ago today, Josie came and picked me up from the house, and we drove around and just kept busy. We stopped at Fusion Wellness Studio (maybe it was on a whim, but I think it was Josie’s plan) where we signed up for the New Student Unlimited Month of Yoga deal and immediately scheduled classes together for the week. By the way, yoga was also something I never saw myself doing.
Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 6.49.02 PM

One year ago, I met this lady. Diane was the teacher who gave me my very first yoga class. She was also the reason I kept going back after that first class. One year ago today, I found out that yoga wasn’t only for granola-eating, patchouli-wearing, bendy and stretchy 20 somethings, but it was for anyone who wanted to be healthier, feel stronger, and learn to manage stress in a different, more effective way.

And, of course, there’s my dear hubby. The man who put up with all my worst behaviours when I quit smoking. One year ago today, he stayed, despite everything.

chuck.jpg

So, here’s the lowdown on what I found when I quit smoking.

  • Everyone will tell you that your life will change when you quit…that food will taste so much better, and you’ll be able to smell things better…you’ll feel sooooo much better. For myself, none of those things were really very true. I feel pretty much the same, and food tastes pretty much the same. Don’t quit if you’re doing it for those reasons…you’ll be disappointed.
  • You need to find the right reason to make you want to stay quit. For me, it was the threat of a stroke. I’ve seen in my own family what a stroke can do…how incredibly debilitating it can be. That’s not how I wanted to live and the idea of having to was scary enough to make quitting “easy”.
  • People will tell you to make a big deal about quitting. Tell everyone. Mark it on the calendar. Get supports in place. Have a backup plan and people to call. I say, yeah, sort of. Tell a handful of people because they should know why you’re acting so weird. Find something to occupy your mind. For me, yoga was a lifesaver. I’m wishing that I’d known about knitting back then.
  • Stop obsessing. If you’re counting the hours and minutes that you’ve been quit, and thinking about all the things you loved about smoking, you’re pretty much condemning yourself to going back to it. The more you think about it, the harder it’s going to be.
  • I’m about to hate myself for this but, just do it. Seriously. Make the decision and then just, stop. Really. That’s it. That’s all it really is.

I haven’t spent much time desperately wishing I could have a smoke. There were a few times when I wished I had that crutch to lean on, but they weren’t overwhelming. A freshly lit smoke still smells heavenly to me, and probably always will, but that’s okay. Cravings, those “if I don’t get a smoke I’m going to crawl out of my skin” type cravings, they really do go away. Honest.

One year down, the rest of my life to go. Yay!

P.S. 14 days until this one single winter if finally over!!! Equinox is coming, equinox is coming!

Each day closer

The sun has been shining and I’ve felt so much stronger and happier and healthier. Needless to say, I’ve been busier with a number of different things than I have been in the past few months. Every morning when the sun shines I get to see this in my living room and a huge sigh of relief escapes me. There is absolutely nothing in the world like having that beautiful, beautiful sunlight on the wall.

EndOfFeb-9

My good friend Colleen came for a weekend visit. There was a pub crawl downtown on Saturday so of course we had to check it out…cosmos and beantinis at Rustic Bean!! Love the people and the atmosphere there.

On the knitting front, Cathy finished off Chuck’s hat for me. I just couldn’t get the decreases to work properly and kept screwing it up. Some of the people at knitting circle said the pattern had let me down…they’re sweet…I know it was just me. But I’ll take it!

EndOfFeb

One of the patterns that I DID manage to finish all by myself (with one short fixing session only) is the Boneyard Shawl by Stephen West. If you don’t know who this man is and have any interest in knitting at all, you HAVE to look him up on Instagram. He’s really neat.

EndOfFeb-7

But here’s the really exciting and big news…are you ready? I don’t want you to think that I’m rubbing it in, but, here we go…we had our first bike ride yesterday!! Yes, on February 25th, we had the bikes out and went riding for the first time in 2018.

In February. Can you believe it???

Not long until solstice now! 23 days. Wooooohooooooo!!!

Back in the fog…

FogDay-4

Oooh…spring is coming for sure! No doubt about it now. The land is cloaked in fog, the ditches are running fast, the roads are muddy, and my brain isn’t working very well. I’m going from low lows to high highs rapidly and for very little reason. I’m totally okay with it though…I know what it’s all about. Hope.

Hope that winter is finally over for real and for sure. Hope that the days will get warmer and longer fast. Hope that summer will be here before I lose the rest of my mind. Hope that all the people whom I left behind when I went into my winter weirdness will still be there on the other side as I come out of it. Hope that I’ll find I didn’t lose as much of myself this winter as I have in previous years.

Chuck and I went driving around today in the fog. He wanted to see what kind of shape the farm road was in. I wanted to get away from my latest knitting disaster.

I’m working on a hat for Chuck and I can’t figure out what is going on but I’ve had more trouble with this effing thing than with anything else I’ve knit this winter. I restarted twice, then finally got the main part knit and started into the decreases (where the hat starts getting smaller at the top) and dropped a bunch of stitches. Cathy fixed them for me. Then I went out of pattern. Cathy fixed it again. Then, I dropped some more stitches and went out of pattern at the same time. It was NUTS. Finally, Cathy just took it away before I could rip it to shreds.

That’s my hero right there. She’s holding the hat that I keep messing up. And, she’s smiling about it. Seriously, this woman has been a lifesaver over the past couple of months…without her teaching me to knit, putting up with my questions, helping me through all the mistakes, and providing such a safe, inviting, and comfy area in her store for local knitters, my winter would have been far more difficult.

FogDay-6

At that point, I think we all decided that I should trade my knitting needles in for chopsticks for the evening.

IMG_20180220_160910

I’ll try again tomorrow.

Ah, who are we kidding…I’m going to start a different project tonight. I’ve had chocolate. That should help. Right?

What’s that smell?

I’ll tell you. It’s SPRING.

Spring was in the air this morning. It really, really was! For the first time this year, I could feel it. And what a marvelous, incredible, joy inducing, giggle prompting, bubble of happy that was!

SunDay

It wasn’t just about the sunlight that comes into our house (although that’s a HUGE part of it). It was the quality of the light, the feel of the air, and the smell.

I know some of you are thinking, “ah, spring…the smell of dogshit in the air” but no, that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s about people opening their windows to get fresh air in, and letting out wonderful early morning smells of bacon and coffee and toast.

SunDay-2

It’s about how snippets of conversation float across the air in the early morning stillness. It’s about the waves crashing on the beach and the smell of the water and the sand.

Oh, what an incredible, wonderful morning it was. Even the plants were loving up all the rays.

I totally get how manic I sound right now but, oh my God…it’s actually coming. Spring is actually coming. I am breathing a huge sigh of relief tonight.

21 Days Later

It’s been 21 days, exactly three weeks, since the last time I sat and wrote. I had really expected to be blogging every day like I did in 70 Daze of Summer but I’ve found that I have very little to say in the winter.

I’ve written about our skiing and about my knitting, about how dark the depression can get and how, given enough time,  I’m able to refocus and see things in a much more balanced and realistic way.  Winter sucks, yada yada yada. I’ve been stuck in a downward spiral, blah blah blah.

And here’s the other thing…over the past three weeks some of my closest friends have been experiencing many truly horrible things, from the sudden death of a loved one, to losing a parent, to being given really challenging news, to being put into a complete tailspin and having to reorder their lives completely to just survive.

I’ve watched each one of these people stagger from the blows, and then put one foot in front of the other as they continue to move forward. They are warriors, and an inspiration to someone like me. They make me want to get up, get dressed, and keep fighting too. And, out of respect for the challenges that they have been facing, to keep my complaining to a minimum.

Here’s some of the nice things that have been happening in amongst all the other stuff…I received a gorgeous spider plant from one of my favorite people along with instructions on how not to kill it. I have had some really good times at the knitting circle up at YarnIt! and have made a few more hats, and headbands and am working on a second shawl. It has kept me busy and out of trouble.

I’ve only had three days where I couldn’t get up and out. Other than that I’ve been able to get outside each day. We made it up to the farm several times on our skis and even got to share a meal up there with our neighbors. We’ve seen some absolutely gorgeous things that can only be seen when the weather is hideous.

Best of all? 32 days until solstice. I can do this.

What working with double pointed needles has taught me about myself this winter

How’s THAT for a mouthful of a title?

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Here’s a quick catch up on what’s been happening before we move on to the actual topic of today’s thought.

  • I’m trying to keep as busy as possible so as not to let the deep winter blues set in. I’m also trying really hard not to dwell on, or get caught up in, the fear of when the next deep dive into that depression is coming.
  • We’ve been skiing quite often.
  • We had to go into the city a few times for follow up doctor appointments for Chuck and while we were there, we found some great stuff at the organic grocery, and popped into the ROM.
  • A dear friend lost her hubby suddenly so we went to visit and spend a few hours together.
  • I signed up for a 2018 Goodreads Challenge (12 books this year) so I’ve been trying to spend some time reading every day and making use of my library membership.
  • We’ve spent some time with friends…socializing in the winter has always been a real challenge for me. I’m trying to change that. Ski dates and dinner dates it is!
  • I’ve been knitting. A lot. So far, I’ve made four cowls, two scarves, two pairs of leg warmers for skiing (one for Chuck and one for me), 12 dishcloths, a tiny teddy bear, and a shawl. I’m currently attempting my first hat. Which brings me back to my double pointed needles story!

I saw a woman in my knitting social working on double pointed needles (or DPNs as I’ve been told most people call them). If you don’t know what they are, think of your grandmother or favorite auntie making socks…that’s what they are. I was so impressed that she was handling FOUR needles when I could barely handle two. And, she wasn’t even looking…just chatting and knitting and making things.

I decided at that point, it would be one of my winter goals to learn how to knit on DPNs. Luckily, I had a reason to try. We don’t have fancy skiing clothes and after an hour on the trail, the bottoms of our jeans are wet, and snow is making its way down our boots. I remembered that, when I was skiing as a kid, I used to wear leg warmers to stop that from happening. Imagine my happy surprise when I found out that I would be able to have a reason to learn to knit in the round on DPNs.

kniting

From the very first round, I fell in love with this technique. Seriously. It was the most satisfying, comforting, relaxing way to knit I had found yet. It felt like I had truly accomplished something by learning how to wield those needles and make them do what I wanted them to. And, at the end of the day, I had a leg warmer to show for it!

So…here’s what I’ve learned about myself, all because of double pointed needles:

  • I like a to have a new challenge. Often.
  • I love accomplishing things and actually NEED to be able to accomplish things every day for my mental health…working on DPNs gives me that feeling every time I finish one needle and move on to the next one.
  • I like learning new skills.
  • I am NOT a patient person and tend to get a little fiery when things don’t work the way I seem to think they should. But I cool down quickly and manage to figure things out eventually. Normally, with a lot of help.
  • I hate long stretches of doing the same thing over and over…but strangely, I like routine, which you would think is a contradiction. Somehow, it’s not.
  • I love rhythmic things.
  • I am extremely task oriented.
  • I need a short bursts of activity, then a quick breathing space, and then to dive back into the activity again. Working with a finite number of stitches on each needle gives me just that.

If you want to find out new things about yourself, I suggest learning to knit on DPNs and ask, “why do I like this so much”, or “what is it that makes me hate this so much”. You’ll see!

A Half Century

Age has always been a mostly irrelevant thing in my world. Growing up, I never really gave age much thought. I was never carded at the beer store or at the bar. No one ever asked me for ID when I bought smokes. I always looked older than I was, I think.

Turning 30 didn’t bother me. Turning 40 wasn’t traumatic. Turning 50 is no big deal.

Until…

Until Chuck said to me, “50 years ago today, you were born”. I immediately thought, “Holy FUCK that’s a long time ago”. There was no internet, no smart phones, no GPS, no cell phones, no home computers, no tablets, no microwaves, no digital cameras, no CDs or DVDs…most people didn’t have cable television yet. We all were listening to records or 8 tracks. Life was simpler…more innocent.

But, when I look around at my friends who are 50, they look young. They sound young. They act young. Age, or the idea of age, has dramatically changed. 50 isn’t “old” anymore. Hell, it’s barely even middle-aged any more. I’m lucky to be alive in an age when 50 is still young.

Today was a good day to be 50. The weather was very neat…sun snow showers and mild temperatures. I got a lot done. I found a birthday card from our next door dog (Roland is my most favorite big fluffy black dog in the world) at my door, completed my very first pattern based knitting project (a shawl), started to learn how to knit in the round on double-pointed needles, had a great yoga class, went to the knitting social, had beautiful flowers on the table, and got a Greek dinner and birthday baklava! What more could anyone ask for?

 

 

 

I’m not okay…

Yesterday was rough. It started at 4 a.m. with the mantra, “I’m not okay. I’m not okay.”, running through my head, getting louder, until I had to get up and try to make it stop.

I tried to knit. I tried to read. I made coffee. I watched Netflix. And every time my concentration broke for a millisecond…there it was. “I’m not okay”.

I tried a grounding exercise to help stem the rising tide of panic and prevent becoming completely overwhelmed. That made me cry. Horrible, gut wrenching, wracking sobs. Every regret was magnified to an impossible size…they came crawling out of their dark, filthy corners to torment me with the knowledge that there is absolutely nothing I can do to fix them…to change them…to make them go away. And they became bigger. Noisier. Darker. Angrier. Hungrier…

I’m not okay.

4 a.m. became 5 a.m. and then 6 a.m. with no relief. But then the mantra changed. It went like this, “I’m not okay, Help me. Help. Help me. I’m not okay. Please help me. I’m not okay. Help. Help. Help me.”. But, in a battle between you and your own brain, sometimes there IS no one to help.

I’m not okay.

We went skiing. The “Get-Outside-It-Will-Cure-Winter-Depression!!” deal. We did a hard track…5 km, a good chunk of it, uphill. Chuck was struggling (I could hear HIM thinking…”I’m not okay”). And, it was my fault. I took the word of strangers that the Blue Trail was lovely. And, now my husband, the love of my life, was struggling. His knee was giving out. His lungs, which were just recovering from a horrible cold, were burning and aching. I did this…it was my fault. He was just coming to like skiing. He was having fun. And I ruined it. I took that away from him. I destroyed it…

We got home and I tried to do a little knitting. I made a mistake and burst into tears, completely swamped with feelings of shame, helplessness, sadness, hopelessness. I was prepared to declare myself totally useless and just go back to sitting on a couch, wasting away, until the summer came back. If I just stayed still…didn’t move…I wouldn’t destroy anything else.

But, I went to see Cathy, who encouraged, and was kind, and helped me fix it (yet again) with no judgement. And, the other women showed up for the knit along, and they talked about how they had to rip out complete sections, and start again, and maybe go down a needle size, and they laughed and shared…and it didn’t seem all that big to them. And, I wondered, how are you okay with this?

I’m not okay.

I went home. I ate oatmeal because I can’t even cook a decent fucking meal. I watched a movie. I went to bed wondering when the mantra would start up again. I slept.

FAST FORWARD…4 A.M. TODAY
Today, I’m okay. Grant me just a minute more of your time to show you the difference:

 

Let me tell you about my day yesterday! It was awesome! It was mild and the sun was shining all morning which was wonderful (it’s been pretty dull and cold the past few weeks). A really good friend of mine, Josie, texted and we made a plan to go skiing. When we picked her up, she had made us her famous “Cappuccino to Go”. Amazing coffee!

Anyway, we headed for Northumberland Forest. They have fantastic trails and since Chuck was almost recovered from his Christmas Cold, the three of us bundled up and went out on the Blue Trail. 5 km of uphill and downhill and around trees. So beautiful and scenic! It was, however, a little much for Chuck since his knee has been acting up, and he’s still got some stuffiness and chest congestion, but he made it through! I’m so proud of him! I don’t think he’ll want to do that specific trail again soon, but maybe by the end of the season he’ll try again!

We stopped for lunch at the Tall Teepee in Alderville, and indulged in burgers and fries. What a treat! We earned it walking up those hills on skis let me tell you! The service at the Teepee is fantastic. One of the women, she has one of those contagious laughs…when she laughs, you have to as well. Totally brightens up your day.

When we got home, I decided to work on my shawl a bit more. It’s a really challenging pattern for a beginner but I’m not giving up! Thank goodness for knit-along evenings, and for Cathy’s patience. I’m learning a LOT (slowly) and the women and men have all been so encouraging and helpful in fixing my slip ups. I am seriously enjoying the company of knitters.

IMG_20180105_113056

Because we indulged at lunch, Chuck and I had a really nice, light, comfort-food dinner and watched The Mummy Returns…one of my all time favorite adventures. A perfect end to a perfect day.

IMG_20180105_091003

So….

People say, “Perspective is the key!”.  “Positive self-talk is the answer!”.  “Reframing the negative will make it positive!”. “Just say YES!”.

Bullshit. Not in my world. In my world, the key is to just survive the bad days any way I can. And always, always try to remember that this is temporary. Tomorrow, things may look completely different. That’s when the work can be done…not in the middle of a crisis.

If you made it through this far, thanks for sticking with me. I hope you’re doing okay.

8 Days In…

Eight days into the new year and I’m still holding on, even though it must be at least a week since we’ve seen the sun. So far this one single winter, I’ve only been in hibernation mode (not leaving the house at all) for a total of three days. Two of them are today and yesterday. That’s a huge victory for me. In Sudbury I could be housebound for a couple of weeks at a time.

The weather has been pretty brutal with wind chill values in the -35 range. Today, however, the temperature has finally broken, bringing snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain with the milder weather.

My new knitting obsession has been keeping me occupied and more mentally balanced than I’m accustomed to in the winter. It’s also giving me the gumption to get out of the house and attend the knit-along sessions, as well as the knitting social evening. That’s kind of exciting…knitting as an antidepressant.

For the first time, I’ve started a project that uses a pattern (I think I’ve mentioned this in previous posts) and I seem to go along quite fine for a while and then suddenly lose focus and make a mistake. I’m not up to the “how to recognize and fix your mistakes” part of my learning curve yet. That’s next week. Seriously. I’m taking a class.

projects-2

So, while I’m on hold with my shawl until I can get in to see Cathy and have her figure out what I did this time, I’ve been organizing my future projects to see what I’ll need and what I get to learn next! Is anyone else feeling that I may have a problem here? A fantastic, wonderful, colourful, fuzzy, exciting, productive, problem?

projects

Tomorrow the sun is finally supposed to shine. Chuck is feeling almost better. My cold is gone. That means an early morning skiing adventure, hot cappuccino at our favorite coffee-house, yoga, and up to get my knitting fixed and see how everyone else is coming along with their projects.

Please sun…please do what you’re supposed to tomorrow and show your face. I miss you. Please don’t let me down.