Friday, December 30, 2016

December 29, 2016

Where have you been?  Oh, wait.  You're probably asking me that, aren't you?  Well, I ran away to paradise for a couple of weeks.  I've been on an island, soaking up the vitamin D, and enjoying 10 hours of daylight.  Did you just read that and think "What?  Who talks like this?"  If you aren't from Alaska and have never lived here then this might sounds like some fresh brand of crazy talk, but it's not.  Okay, fine I'll explain.

When you live in the Interior of Alaska, you experience the shortest day of the year, known as Winter Solstice," in a totally different way.  On this day our area has only about four hours of daylight.  No, don't adjust your glasses or your computer screen.  You read that right.  FOUR FREAKING HOURS - that's it!!  You view this day as a right of passage and begin counting the minutes that will become hours of daylight.  You've survived the darkness.  With the lack of light, comes a lack of vitamin D.  This is the only place I've ever lived, where vitamin D deficiency is as common as old men in a coffee shop.

So, when you take a vacation in December you pick a warm place with lots of sunlight, a place where you can soak up vitamin D and enjoy the daylight for longer than that short, dim, four hours.  Somewhere where you can sit on a lanai and listen to the rain while drinking coffee, barefoot, in shorts.

When we escape the Alaskan winter, it's not just to escape the dark and the cold.  For me, it's also a way to rest, relax, and reset my creativity.  In October, I often find myself running out of creative gas.  By November, I've lost all interest.  Once Dember hits, I've often set myself up for ideas of things to create on vacation, many of which are high expectations that I never follow through on.  This year was slightly different.

I took a knitting project, which didn't pan out quite as planned but, stay with me.  I packed yarn, needles and stitch markers, but the yarn was a bust.  In fact, as I write this, it's sitting on my desk mocking me.  Lucky for me, I found two, okay more than two, but I only went to two yarn stores.  I bought yarn I love.  Four different types, two skeins of each and I set about creating a project.  What's more, I finished that project and started a second, all while on vacation.

It felt so good to knit, and not be judged for making yet another cowl.  First of all, I love making cowls and scarves.  I enjoy making small projects that have a quick end.  This winter I picked my knitting hobby back up after a long hiatus.

When we moved here four years ago, I learned to knit and joined a knitting group at the library.  I made fast, close friends with a fellow knitter but she made big projects, wrote her own patterns, and started a knitting business.  Then it happened.  The judgment.  It came dressed as encouragement, subtle and quite, with a smile.  The encouragement in sheep's clothing started to drain the fun out of both the knitting and friendship.

I quit.  I stopped knitting because I had no interest nor desire to knit a sweater, not because I couldn't, but because I wasn't interested large projects.  I stopped knitting because I let her make me feel bad about what I chose to knit.  I let that feeling steal the joy out of the yarn and the needles I'd grown to love.  I put down the needles, stuffed them in a drawer with the yarn and forgot about it.  I walked away from knitting.

When October rolled around, I opened the drawer pulled out a set of needles and some yarn.  I started making cowls and scarves again.  What's more, I found the joy in again.  It was always there, but I let someone else convince me it wasn't enough.  In reality, it is.  It's enough and I'm enough.  I'm happy to be knitting and loving my yarn and needles again.

This was a big revelation for me when I was sitting on the lanai knitting and pondering why I quit in the first place.  It's very healing to admit this kind of thing to yourself, to find your strength and take back your life and your joy.

The moral of the story - Don't ever let anyone crush your happiness, just because it isn't their happiness.  You do you and I'll to me, it's that easy, and if we support each other's happy that'll make twice the happy.

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