The Year of Living Alphabetically hasn't turned out the way I planned -- but then again, very few things seem to. I'm accepting defeat or reality or failure or whatever and giving up on this project so I can get back to just blogging and reconnect to my community of readers.
I still think it's an interesting idea to structure time around words or concepts rather than around a Calendar and a Task List, and I have a fun list of alphabetical topics that I had all kinds of good intentions of writing about:
- Innovation / Introversion / Inspiration
- Journey vs. destination / Julie & Julia / Joy / Justice (vs. Peace, South Africa Truth & Reconciliation)
- Language / Learning / Lists / Love
- Meditation / Middle Path
- Nature / Nature Conservancy
- Organized (Zero Sum possessions) / Observer vs. participant / Optimist
- Privacy (celebrity culture, right to privacy, thesis "Right to be let alone" Brandeis 1905) / Patience / Persistence / Potential / Peace
- and Quiet / Question authority / Quality (Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
- Rest and Relaxation (renew / retreat / restore)
- Safari (Africa in May)
- Travel / Trust
I'm still working on learning to fail faster. The goal of having a blog is not to set myself up with another set of expectations that I'm not meeting and to feel bad about not writing; it's to have an open venue to share my writing.
My summer of writing in Keystone worked very well for me. I immersed myself in my apparently never-ending novel and made good progress on The North Side of Trees. I hiked some, read some, and deeply enjoyed the freedom of entire weeks without a single appointment on my calendar. It was entertaining to let my introvert self have free rein. My theory was that I'd come back to Boulder this fall and switch into extrovert mode, but that hasn't turned out the way I planned either. I've loved reconnecting with friends and family, but my introvert self really loves solitude and contemplative time. I remember a teacher, Wes Nisker, at a meditation retreat at Spirit Rock being asked when he had developed a committed daily meditation practice, which he had been doing for over 30 years. He answered, "When I needed to." I cherish my alone time. I still haven't needed to develop a daily meditation practice, but I find that my self, and therefore my days, are calmer if I take / make time for silence and solitude.
An old dormant skill that I revived this summer in which I'm finding a nice mix of creative productivity and meditative quiet time is knitting. My father taught me to knit when I was a young girl, but I hadn't made anything craft-y since I crocheted a couple of afghans during college, which makes it more than 20 years ago. My mother-in-law, Cecelia, is a beautiful knitter and raved about the yarn store in Frisco during an extended stay in Keystone during the summer of 2008. I decided that I would have / make / take time this summer to sit and enjoy making gifts with my very own hands.
The first thing I made was a simple repeat pattern scarf for my Mom's birthday in August:
Then I made a more complicated basketweave pattern scarf with a ribbed edge for my sister Martha's birthday in September. The photographs don't do justice to the vibrancy of the alpaca yarn since they're against the background of my gray desktop.
Then I used the same pattern and yarn but in a different color for a scarf for Cecelia's birthday, also in September. I was extra careful to go back and tear out any mistakes and knit again since I really wanted her scarf to be as close to perfect as I could get it. I loved this blue color for her.
And then I used the same basketweave pattern with a chunky alpaca yarn called Urban Autumn on big fat needles for my friend Ilana's birthday scarf in October. It's great how variegated yarns make their own color pattern within a stitch pattern.
I'm working on a two different projects now, one of which isn't even a scarf! Part of the fun of knitting is that you can increase the difficulty as you achieve mastery so that you're often working in a flow state -- and it's a nice meditation to think lovingkindness thoughts of the recipient of the gift as you knit along.