William Ellery Channing
To live content with small means - to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich - to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart - to bear all cheerfully - do all bravely, await occasions - never hurry; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.
You are either the type of person who can get away with wearing a giant flower on your head, or you're not.
I clearly think that I am because I walked the streets of wintry England with this giant, pink flower on my head. I walked tall and I walked proud knowing full well that some people were walking past thinking blimey! I meanwhile was thinking that I looked the bees knees and no doubt about it.
I love this pattern, I'd been planning on making one for my giant head (it really is super big) for ages, since making this beauty, but I had to wait for all my Christmas knitting to be done before I could begin. Last year was a mega knitting year for presents and whilst I do love making things for people, it is quite stressful knitting to a deadline especially when you're not really all that good at it. I wish I was proper good at knitting but instead I knit in a state of mild terror that if I make a mistake, one, tiny mistake, then I'm doomed because I have a very poor record at fixing mistakes. What happens is, I try to fix said tiny mistake, but do it badly and cause another mistake and pretty much a minute later the whole thing is unravelling and I have to angrily frog and start again.
So to be able to make something where mistakes didn't matter was bliss. I sat on the sofa and knitted with relish, delighting in every stitch. There is something about knitting without a care as to the result that entirely calms the soul, focuses the mind and soothes like balm. Heavenly.
It's a good job I was so relaxed about this project because whilst I planned for the flower to be giant, wanted maximum impact, therein lay my fatal error. I over-cooked the goose, so to speak. It's so big and heavy that it causes the headband to droop down over one eye, not a pleasing result and let me tell you that the last thing a lady wants is a drooping flower as she's walking down the street.
But never defeated, this girl will start again, well remove the flower and try again, with less grandiose aspirations. The sad lesson being that sometimes the biggest flower does not win the day.
Have you got good stuff going on? Are you organising, planning, having a clear out, dreaming up some good dreams?
Spring is on its way and I saw these perfect, purple lovelies on our walk today, it made me feel happy. I love when spring is just about to share her wonderful, flowery bounty with us, I feel ready for some good stuff. She isn't my favourite season but I like her whisper of promise and the way she makes a bold statement about renewal. Move aside crusty, dead leaves, there's some crazy ass pretty flowers coming through, I'm beautiful, I'm green and it's my time now.
I'm a paid-up member of team renewal having renewed and reinvented myself countless times over the years. I like the process of clearing out the old to make way for the new, there isn't even a tiny bit of hoarder in me, if it stays still for long enough I will throw it. I believe that the space you make; in your life, your heart, your wardrobe, is what allows the good stuff to flow, what lets the magic in.
I'm walking proof of this, at 38 I was divorced, fabulous (obviously) and in a job I didn't so much hate as deemed pointless, constantly being told that I should stop being so 'emotional', so 'reactive' so 'me'. Fast forward to today; 41, still fabulous (I know!), happily married, beautiful baby, dream house, the freedom to look after my girl full time and the space to make decisions about the future 'me' and you can bet the future me will use her emotions whenever she likes and react to whatever she damn well pleases. I am the epitome of renewal, I am the poster girl for making good stuff happen.
So it is that after a deliberately quiet and peaceful January with a huge amount of planning, journaling, reading, playing, walking in the rain and relaxing, I'm now slowly starting to shift gears, emerge from my winter den, shrug off my winter coat and get more good stuff done.
Watch out universe, hold on to your hats world, I am primed and ready. Abundance isn't my word for the year for nothing.
What does your inner voice say?
Is it a constant chatterbox? Does it tell you that you should hurry up, do stuff, shouldn't do stuff, can't do stuff, must do stuff, mustn't do stuff? Does it say that if you do this then that will happen and if you don't then woe betide you and all that usual inner voice doomy type rubbish.
Mine does. In fact mine would have me believe that I should always be doing something, planning something, making something, cleaning something or, failing that, bloody writing about something. It never shuts up. Never. Shuts. Up!
My inner voice, lets call it Dave for the sake of this post, is constantly driving me forward, constantly driving me mad, always making me do stuff. Dave has its uses of course but I don't always appreciate its running commentary on what I should be doing next and I don't happen to think it always has my best interests at heart.
Take last year for example. I had a brand spanking new baby, so much joy, so much fun, so much work! And yet I found myself being constantly told by Dave that I should get a job. It went something like this "a little part time job, yes, you know, it will get you out of the house and give Betsy time with other people, go on, go on, you can do it...blah, blah, blah".
So of course I get me a "little part time job" and whilst I do enjoy it, I don't enjoy leaving the girl and I certainly don't enjoy the palaver of getting her from A to B so I can go to C then back to B so we can go home to A again. I find I'm missing her, I'm knackered and I don't quite know what I'm doing any more so I quit.
The thing is that around the time I started looking for that job I got toothache. I went to the dentist, not a problem, he filled it. Still toothache. Go back to the dentist this time for a crown, now I'm broke and still have toothache. This went on for months and months and ended up with me reluctantly having a root canal treatment, I suppose nobody on earth has ever had root canal treatment willingly. My final appointment for the tooth of doom was the same week I left my job.
Left the dentist, left my job, next day no toothache. Ta da!
Now some might say that this is a coincidence but I beg to differ. I didn't even realise the two experiences matched until I was going back through last years diary to check out what we got up to (I had three haircuts, one trip to the cinema and eight (yes EIGHT) trips to the freaking dentist)! When I checked the dates everything sort of clicked into place, a big OH YEAH moment.
I think my body knows me better than Dave and it was trying to tell me stuff in its own body way ie. hurting! This was to try and get my attention and to stop Dave from being in charge. My tooth was like "oh no, Dave's told her to go and get a job, better try and stop her, hope it doesn't take her too long to notice!" Yeah. Maybe next time I'll pay more attention to my body and less attention to Dave.
I want it. I want it so bad.
But it's not mine. I need to get over it.
I made it as a Christmas present for my old pal Audrey and it was a hard wrench letting it go, wrapping it up and sending it off. Needless to say, I had a good try on anyway.
The pattern is from Anna Wilkinson's Learn to Knit, Love to Knit, as soon as I saw these chunky, funky hats I knew I had to make one. Also Audrey had dropped quite a large hint that she would be delighted to receive such a thing as a present so who am I to disappoint.
I used the lovely, soft Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky yarn that I got from Mrs Moon and Loop, both in London and both worth a visit if you are after something a bit posho on your needles or hook. It comes in these long skeins and I'll be honest and say that I'm not sure what technique you are meant to use to knit from them. I got really tangled up and had to start over and roll the skein into a ball before I could try again - is this what you're supposed to do? Can someone trained in the art of knitting from a skein please enlighten me. Would be much appreciated.
I like knitting with something bulky because it makes up so quickly, this hat is super speedy to make thus providing a decent sense of achievement as you're going along - I need this quite badly given that I so lack in patience.
I also secretly made Mr P the same hat for Christmas only not in Hot Pink and Curry, which is probably the best name for a shade of wool ever, but in grey and white and without a giant bobble, in fact without a bobble at all, shame for the hat, great for the husband. Luckily for me this hat gets to stay within these four walls and it frequently finds its way on to my head for the afternoon dog walk.
Really easy and satisfying pattern, the decreasing was okay once I had stopped freaking out at the incredibly complicated looking S2TOGKPO abbreviation and checked it out a hundred times on YouTube. The only bit that was tough was the last two rows which were really tight and hard to manoeuvre on the big, fat circular needles. Managed it though, twice! so not complaining at all, feeling very satisfied with my knitty performance.
This is a mighty fine looking hat so I recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of chunky bobble hat wearing and who lives in a cold climate because it should be noted that alpaca wool is warmer than a bear's armpit!
So far this year I have been making plans. Making plans and organising myself an awful lot.
January is at best a bit dreary and at worst downright depressing. This year it has mostly been dreary and wet, lots of missed afternoon dog walks, muddy boots and water. But it's also been quite exciting because I've been organised for the first time in ages. In an attempt to lift my spirits away from wet January and towards sunshine, I've been planning stuff. So far, a summer holiday, a (proper) garden plan and personal goals for every month. January's goal was to complete all plans - see what I did there, totally achieved that one already huh?
Now I'm a big fan of planning, I like the good energy it fosters and the good stuff it makes happen but I try not to go too overboard because I know the old saying to be true, "man makes plans and God laughs". The times I have had cause to recollect these words of wisdom are too many to count.
Let me see, the plan was to be married at 28 (church, giant dress, the works), first baby at 30, second baby at 32 and living in suburban bliss with Mr Emma in a house almost entirely decorated in beige for ever and ever, till death do us part! Yeah. Want to know how all that youthful planning turned out? Well I was undateably single at 28, speedily divorced at 34 and blissfully pregnant at 40. Life has its own plans doesn't it? I think the trick is to go with the flow but have in mind a direction to go in and be relaxed about getting there. Because you do get there in the end, well I certainly did, only thing is our house doesn't seem to have anything beige in it.
Last year was entirely 'off-plan' and consequently much drifting and fannying around did occur; we didn't get a holiday, we didn't do anything amazing with the house or garden, we didn't even have any days out. We did however raise a pretty awesome baby and enjoyed every minute of it so don't get the violins out just yet, I'm just saying that some plans are good.
Just the act of writing something down (preferably in a very dreamy notebook) seems to make it happen and so this week will be spent perusing the South of France, looking for places to stay, writing itineraries, dreaming of sunshine, beaches and Carcassonne and trying to decide if 42 is too old for a hot pink bikini!